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Kiwidave4

Gas Turbine Conqueror

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Been a while since I posted any modelling related stuff here, and those of you who frequent the ‘Funnies’ section will be familiar with the contributions I have made in lieu!

 

After completing my MAZ 7310 build at the end of 2016 I had trouble getting motivated to tackle my next project. In early 2017 I started a Trumpeter JS-3M as an OOB quickie but just could not ‘get into it’. Then early in 2018 I dragged my stalled Conqeror ‘twin build’ out and made a little progress before again finding the task too daunting.

 

While working on the Conquerors I went to the BNA website to order the PannzerArt Bromide extinguishers that both Conquerors needed. They just happened to have the Amusing Hobby Conqueror Mk1 on special, so I thought I might get it on the off chance that there would be some injection moulded parts I could rob for the ‘twin build’, while at the same time giving me a donor kit for the gas turbine Conqueror that I had fancied building for a while.

 

That was back in May, and no modelling happened from then until just before Christmas when I decided that I had to tackle the gas turbine project or simply accept that my modelling days are over.

 

I knew nowt about the Amusing Hobby kit before I started so was a little disappointed, but not surprised, to find it is not very accurate. However, I do not want to get bogged down in lots of corrections so have made a conscious effort to only address the most significant visually wrong bits while concentrating on the conversion work.

 

Not a lot of progress so far but thought I would start a build thread now so I can add new pics as I progress.

 

Initial work concentrated on the basic mods to prepare the hull. This included removing the engine decks, adding a 2mm bulkhead at the front of the engine bay to stiffen the hull, and a 40 thou false rear plate. Redundant locating holes were filled, and some moulded on detail removed. A hole was cut in the floor to allow the crew to be added after painting.

 

The kits stowage bins are a bit of a disaster area. They are inaccurate, a problem compounded by the method of assembly which recesses the tops into the sides instead of the much neater method of placing the lids on top of the sides. A lot of time has been spent on trying to fix these and I rather fancy I should have scratched a set which in hindsight would have been easier. In the photos they are just 'posed' for the pics, still work to do before they are fitted.

 

I have made the falsework that covers the glacis top and bottom seams, cut out the co-drivers hatch and started on the turret ring cover.

 

So thats where we have got to so far! If anyone can help with any info on this vehicle beyond the handful of pics, and Pathe newsreel, - all taken on the same day at FVRDE, - then I would appreciate it. I would also like to know more about the Parsons gas turbine. And before someone says “Google it”, I have done multiple searches on four search engines in three languages!

 

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Some very nice scratch building going on there. GT Conqueror is not a vehicle that I'm familiar with I'm afraid.

 

John.

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Thanks John. The GT Conqueror was a Caernarvon hull modified by CA Parsons to prove the feasibility of using gas turbines in tanks. It still exists in a different form today as the Tank Museums mobile commentary box. Although the GT trials went on for several years at FVRDE and MEXE it seems the only time it was photographed was on the 30/9/1954 when FVRDE had a demo day for Press and Top Brass.

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Posted (edited)

It seems that the engine for the Conqueror was specially designed by Parsons and was one of only 2 gas turbines they built for vehicles, the other being for a railway locomotive.  Their total involvement in gas turbines was only about 8 engines over about 15 years.  So the chances of finding out much are slim.  They were, and remained under RR and later Siemens ownership, world leaders in marine and industrial steam turbines.

 

You might find this document useful if you haven't seen it already, particularly page 23 paragraph C2.  It's about 7 years old and references another document in C2 for which I can't find any evidence of publication.  Maybe idgtE can help further.  Contact details are on the frontispiece.

https://www.idgte.org/IDGTE Paper 582 History of The Industrial Gas Turbine Part 1 v2 (revised 14-Jan-11).pdf

 

I presume you've tried Bovington's archives?

Edited by Das Abteilung
addition

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30 minutes ago, Das Abteilung said:

It seems that the engine for the Conqueror was specially designed by Parsons and was one of only 2 gas turbines they built for vehicles, the other being for a railway locomotive.  Their total involvement in gas turbines was only about 8 engines over about 15 years.  So the chances of finding out much are slim.  They were, and remained under RR and later Siemens ownership, world leaders in marine and industrial steam turbines.

 

You might find this document useful if you haven't seen it already, particularly page 23 paragraph C2.  It's about 7 years old and references another document in C2 for which I can't find any evidence of publication.  Maybe idgtE can help further.  Contact details are on the frontispiece.

https://www.idgte.org/IDGTE Paper 582 History of The Industrial Gas Turbine Part 1 v2 (revised 14-Jan-11).pdf

 

I presume you've tried Bovington's archives?

 

Thanks for that. Yes I had already found it....I think I can safely say if its on the Interweb I have probably seen it!

I have not tried the Tank Museum - their charges rather put me off when I dont know if in fact they will even have any info.

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Have you tried contacting idgtE about the other document or to see if they can put you in touch with the author?  It sounds as if he might be the nearest thing to a font of knowledge.

 

Bovington don't charge for just telling you if they have any info on a subject as far as I know.  They do charge for visits and copies, but I don't imagine you'll be visiting from the Antipodes!  As they have the vehicle chassis it is conceivable they also acquired some documentary information about it.   I haven't seen it there for a long time: since the permanent commentary tower was built in 2009 I don't think they've been using it.  It isn't in the Conservation Centre or anywhere else immediately visible, but it might be under a cam net at the back of the arena: there are a few things parked over there.

 

The library and archive contact email address is on the museum website

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14 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

Have you tried contacting idgtE about the other document or to see if they can put you in touch with the author?  It sounds as if he might be the nearest thing to a font of knowledge.

 

Bovington don't charge for just telling you if they have any info on a subject as far as I know.  They do charge for visits and copies, but I don't imagine you'll be visiting from the Antipodes!  As they have the vehicle chassis it is conceivable they also acquired some documentary information about it.   I haven't seen it there for a long time: since the permanent commentary tower was built in 2009 I don't think they've been using it.  It isn't in the Conservation Centre or anywhere else immediately visible, but it might be under a cam net at the back of the arena: there are a few things parked over there.

 

The library and archive contact email address is on the museum website

 

I have fired off an email so we will so what transpires!🙂

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Small update! For some light relief from the scratch building I spent some time assembling the kit tracks which went together more easily than any other individual link tracks I have built. 

 

Then it was back to the hull. Got the mesh and handles fitted to the transmission cover, and on my third attempt got the centre panel for the engine bay done! Also made the three ventilators for the top of the turret ring blanking plate, and added mesh to the air intake.

 

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Love the scratch building on this. Great work.

 

John.

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Steady progress has been made on the engine decks. I opted to make a 'base layer' from 30 thou styrene, then plank it with 10 thou. This made it easier to fit the mesh, and also meant that the thicker material would provide strength, while the thinner stuff made for easier cutting and shaping of the apertures.

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Then the postman brought a small parcel from Peters Spares - some model railway carriage door handles which despite being to 00 gauge are close enough to represent the engine deck catches in 1/35th. I did not fancy scratching 38 of these, and once again railway parts have saved the day for me. Only problem is they are potential carpet monster fodder!

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The handles allowed me to finish off the transmission deck, and the engine decks are now also ready for the handles - just need to get in the mood to wrestle with them! 

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The scratch building level on this model is awesome. Very clean and nice work.

Can't wait to see more.

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FYI I asked at Bovington what happened to the old Conqueror commentary booth: i.e. the original gas turbine tank.   I was told, rightly or wrongly, that the vehicle still belonged to MOD and that they sent it for scrap as the Museum no longer wanted it.  I cannot attest to the truth or otherwise of that, but it is certainly no longer there.

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2 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

FYI I asked at Bovington what happened to the old Conqueror commentary booth: i.e. the original gas turbine tank.   I was told, rightly or wrongly, that the vehicle still belonged to MOD and that they sent it for scrap as the Museum no longer wanted it.  I cannot attest to the truth or otherwise of that, but it is certainly no longer there.

Thats a shame. I saw a comment by Rob Griffin somewhere that Bovington had the (or at least a) Parsons engine too - wonder if that went the same way. 

 

I contacted them about info and got a rather strange reply which included the offer of a proof sheet of low res pics that I could select and buy hi-res from. 

Said I would like that and have heard any more!

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Next time I'm there I'll ask about the engine.  There are all sorts of bits and pieces in the Conservation Centre but I don't recall anything looking like a GT.  There are a couple of L60's fitted to big ventilation blowers, but those could hardly be mistaken for a GT.  How many were built?  Just the one for that tank or was there a spare?  Parsons only built a very small number of GTs all told.

 

You might like to jog their memory.  There's only a couple of people dealing with enquiries and responses, and they do get a lot.  I'm usually only able to go there at weekends, when the archives are closed.  But if push comes to shove I can see what I can do about getting hold of them and forwarding them on to you.  How much of a hurry are you in?  Much, I imagine as you're in build.  I only ask because in a few weeks I'll be able to visit on weekdays when they are open.

 

I'm only speculating wildly here, but with the price of ferrous scrap being what it is and with Lulworth just down the road I wonder if it went down there as a range target?  The scrap price would hardly cover the cost of moving it to the disposal sales site.

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5 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

Next time I'm there I'll ask about the engine.  There are all sorts of bits and pieces in the Conservation Centre but I don't recall anything looking like a GT.  There are a couple of L60's fitted to big ventilation blowers, but those could hardly be mistaken for a GT.  How many were built?  Just the one for that tank or was there a spare?  Parsons only built a very small number of GTs all told.

I dont know how many engines were built, just remember seeing Robs comment - whenever I see anything that Rob has said I tend to take notice.

 

 

5 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

You might like to jog their memory.  There's only a couple of people dealing with enquiries and responses, and they do get a lot.  I'm usually only able to go there at weekends, when the archives are closed.  But if push comes to shove I can see what I can do about getting hold of them and forwarding them on to you.  How much of a hurry are you in?  Much, I imagine as you're in build.  I only ask because in a few weeks I'll be able to visit on weekdays when they are open.

Thanks for your offer but at the rate I am progressing I think I will just run with the gen I have. I may end up with something that is not quite right, but how many people will have evidence to the contrary?😀

I only really have gaps in my knowledge of some minor details. I have tried my usual trick of manipulating the photos I have but some of the smaller details remain elusive.

 

 

5 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

I'm only speculating wildly here, but with the price of ferrous scrap being what it is and with Lulworth just down the road I wonder if it went down there as a range target?  The scrap price would hardly cover the cost of moving it to the disposal sales site.

Yes, I was wondering about the point of scrapping it myself - as you say the cost of shifting it would be more than the scrap value. As part of my modelling reference I subscribe to the HMVF site, and some Facebook military pages. From comments I have read from restorers the MoD seems to have a bit of a reputation when it comes to disposal of vehicles and parts. Seems a shame, but things are what they are.

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6 hours ago, Kiwidave4 said:

From comments I have read from restorers the MoD seems to have a bit of a reputation when it comes to disposal of vehicles and parts. Seems a shame, but things are what they are.

I can see both sides of that argument as not only did I work for them for 32 years but I also spent some time back in the 80's actually doing the naval commercial disposal sales.  HMS Tiger was the most famous object I sold, along with HMS President and Chrysanthemum on the Thames.  Surplus government assets must be turned into value for the exchequer, a policy I'm sure exists in the countries of most if not all readers.

 

Having said the corporate-speak, I don't believe that enough attention is always paid to the history of items.  OK, you can't keep everything: but in the past when the Museum was "in house" as part of the Corps there was at least a "first dibs" attitude to surplus vehicles for the Museum - which is how they got all the post-war experimental stuff they do have from Chertsey.  Now they're a stand-alone entity that link is broken.  Had the GT Conqueror been in her original condition I'm certain it would have been kept, but having been converted to the commentary box it probably wasn't considered worthwhile when they already had a pristine Conqueror (and there's a scruffy one across the road as gate guardian at Stanley Barracks).  Converting it back would have been a considerable undertaking even supposing the engine still existed.

 

It is possible for organisations to petition for the private treaty sale or gifting of surplus items with historic or other significance, but they need to know they exist first - which isn't always easy.  Personally I think that MOD should have an automatic policy of offering examples of retired equipment, spares for same, experimental kit etc etc to at least the "national" museums, if not to all military and technology museums in the UK.  I use the word "museum" here loosely to include organisations like the SdKfz Foundation and Weald Foundation: "working collections".  But where do you draw the line?  And who do you choose as recipients for limited numbers?

 

Commercial and private restorers are able to purchase surplus items when sold, but they're usually in large lots and usually auctioned. Which makes acquiring specific parts etc difficult.  Various methods of disposal have been tried over the years but to my knowledge they have never included "rummage days" for collectors and restorers who might just want to buy the odd few things and not whole crates of stuff.  But putting the corporate hard nose back on, that's a lot of effort for minimal return.

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Yes I can see that its easier to have a blanket 'corporate' policy on disposal.

 

Actually, I am not sure if 07BA70 could ever have been rebuilt.  From what I have gleaned prior to its gas turbine fitment it was a Caernarvon hull, and then a Conqueror prototype - neither of much interest without a turret, Meteor and all the other gubbins. Subsequent to the removal of the gas turbine it was a dynamometer test bed at MEXE which is when the lower part of the superstructure was fitted. Presumably the gas turbine 'bodywork' was lost at that time along with other GT specific fitments such as the fuel tanks. So as it sat it was a much hacked about hull with none of the bits to make it anything other than a hard target! So maybe that is the best fate.

 

 

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Finished the construction phase of the 'bodywork' so had to hang the tracks on it for a photo session.

 

The stowage bins are still a work in progress trying to eliminate the seams and get good finish for the paint. As with many projects it is sometimes the simple bits that prove difficult. The two fuel filler caps on the turret blank (the most aft of the protrusions) took three attempts to get right. They will have a wing not fitted to each but that is one of the last jobs or they will disappear!

 

Going to take a bit of a break from the main build now and tackle the base and the crew as a diversion before getting into detailing. A major problem to solve is how to make the four folding ladders, one at each end of the track guards. I was hoping to find some PE item that I could chop up and modify but much searching through railway and ship modelling stores has turned up nothing useful.

 

Anyway, here it is as of right now.

 

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I wish my fabrication skills were as good as that.

 

Bovington later had a dummy fibreglass Centurion turret built for the Tank Factory display suspended from an overhead crane.  Making a Caernarvon replica from 07BA70 might not have been beyond the bounds of possibility but I suppose there's a cost vs historic value balance, especially with all the hull changes too.  Ultimately it was a dead end and they have the shiny almost-new ex-School Conqueror Mk2, which was at least a "real" tank.

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5 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

I wish my fabrication skills were as good as that.

 

Thanks. I guess fabrication is my strong point, my trade is metalwork and sheet styrene has similarities.

If my general modelling skills were half as good I would not have two half-built Conqueror gun tanks languishing in the cupboard!

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Posted (edited)

Been a while since I posted an update! After completing the basic bodywork construction I moved on to what should have been the easy stuff - adding kit details and scratching some small bits.

 

First I made the splash guards that fit on the inner side of the front track quard sections. These are a distinctive feature of the Conqueror that Amusing Hobby somehow missed! Because they are fairly flimsy I am not fitting them until later in the build.

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The rear tow points and the exhaust box were fitted, and I then made a replacement pair of rear lights which Amusing Hobby had managed to make about half size. Once they were fitted I ran the wiring to them.

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Then I went to fit the lower bazooka plates and found that they were warped and unusable. I promptly whipped up a scratchbuilt pair using the kit item as patterns. Then I consulted my ref photos and realised that the gas turbine machine had pre-production plates - pretty obvious as it was built on a Carnaervon prototype hull.

 

Fixing the rear lights had created a problem. The kit front sidelights were somewhat oversize, - no doubt to compensate for the undersize rear ones, - and I had been trying to ignore them but once the rear were fitted the Anorak in me could no longer tolerate the kit parts so a pair of front lights had to be made and fitted. This would have been much easier if I had done it before I started the build!

 

I also fitted the horn, but not before having to ‘improve’ the horn, change the mount bracket and add wiring. With progress not being as smooth as I wished I decided to have a break in the hopes that I would return to it refreshed.

 

I restarted after a couple of weeks by tackling the crew. My ‘go to’ figures are the MiniArt British tank and AFV crew sets. I mix and match these to get what I need but this time I required a bare head so had to look at buying something. The end result is a driver with a Miniart body and left arm, unknown right arm found in the spares box and a head from a Masterbox set. The co-driver is Miniart body and arms, Masterbox right hand with mike, and Hornet head with Miniart/scratch headset.

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Feeling like I was on a roll I returned to the bazooka plates and made a pair from styrene, though I have not decided yet if they need some extra mounting/strengthening parts.

 

The kit has a PE fret which includes the headlight brush guards. I did not want to fit them yet, but thought I would get them bent ready and also do some work on the headlights. Once I had removed the guards from the fret two things became apparent. Firstly they are the wrong size, secondly they are different pattern to the production gun tanks. While pondering these points a third was noticed - they are the softest brass I have ever encountered. Usually I anneal PE prior to bending, these are already softer than annealed brass, so they have been put to one side while I ponder the options - most likely I will tin them with solder to stiffen them up a bit and bend/cut them to fit.

 

At that point it seemed a good time to hang all the bits together and take some pics to try and keep the spirit up or I will have a third half-built Conqeror in the cupboard. 

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Edited by Kiwidave4
granma

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Nice progress, your attention to detail is second to none!

This is going to be a stunning representation of an unusual and little heard of vehicle, looking forward to the next instalment

 

      Roger  

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Because of the large area of mesh over the engine and transmission decks I felt it desirable to do something that would avoid a 'black hole' look.

Not interested in even attempting to make an accurate engine but some plastic collage work using bits from the spares box, stretched sprue and scrap styrene

should do the trick once painted!

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