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Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Forum for discussion relating to the British MK IV Tank
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Adrian Harris
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Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Adrian Harris » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:24 pm

I was reading the Steel Masters "Modelling WW1 Tanks" book last night and it mentioned that the Tamiya Male Mk IV has hatches in the Spud Box, whereas the Takom one didn't, and that the Tamiya kit is correct as they can bee seen at Bovington. I'd love to know where they stood that they could see inside the Spud Box but there you go.

This is the detail they mention:

Tamiya Mk.IV.jpg
A quick scan through the Haynes book didn't show hatches on any of the tanks where the interior of the Spud Box was visible.

I presume it's to do with the radiators, as that is what is under that area of the roof.

Adrian.
R.I.P Margaret I.L.Y

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Chris Hall » Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:53 pm

I've now had a trawl through all my pictures of Mark IV's (it has to be said that the Spud Box is not the most photographed, or photogenic, part of a Mark IV :) ) and ........

I can't find ANY pictures of a hatch inside the Spud Box. Nada. Zilch.

I share Adrian's bemusement on how Tamiya could have climbed up on Excellent at Bovington but, even if there is one, I wouldn't take it as typical of any Mark IV. Excellent has had a troubled past, being a training tank that never left the UK, then being heavily converted (including an AA mount on the roof) for defence duties at Portsmouth in WW2, and finally being renovated by apprentices in (I think) the 1960's when sympathetic restoration techniques were in their infancy, if present at all.

I've got very clear, original pictures from the 1930's of L52 Lyric and Lotte (ex-F30 Flaming Fire II) both showing the interior of the Spud Box being as per the Armortek model, with just a metal strip running down the middle. There are also some very nice pictures of D51 Deborah, at her new home in Cambrai (Facebook's WW1 Tank Hunter group), that don't show any sign of a hatch. And all these were Fighting, not Training, tanks.

Also, I've had the privilege of holding an original Spud at Bovington. A heavy, awkward, lump of metal, which I could just about have lifted above my head. But trying to lift a hatch in a confined space, possibly in a tank on fire, with 30 of them on the top ? Don't be silly. And, if the crew had managed to 'lose' their spuds, the box was then filled with tools, fuel cans, camo netting and loads of other 'useful' stuff - equally heavy. I've always wondered how men actually got out of that little door at the back, let alone a roof hatch above the gearbox ......

The Mark V, though, did have a roof hatch at the rear. A big one. That's because the whole rear section was redesigned, and there wasn't a Spud Box at all. Perhaps that's where the confusion lies.

But I'm prepared to call Tamiya, and the Steel Masters book, out on this. I simply don't agree with them, and think their argument spurious.

A dogmatic,

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, 2 x limbers and 1 x 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Stephen White » Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:20 pm

Can’t quite put my finger on it....but “hatches in the spud box” sounds like an injury a batsman might suffer facing an over-zealous bit of fast bowling.

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by kevin schirn » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:54 pm

The Mark IV at bovington does have 2 hatched in the bottom of the spud box I got a picture of it when I was there in February using my daughters selfie stick ( it does have better uses) but this is where the questions start.On another website svsm.org in their gallery they have a picture of part of the spud box interior of lodestar iii with no sign of hatches but they may just be out of view.The hatches do look like they are to service radiator equipment and not for exiting the tank
But as Chris said 103 does have a lot of questions but it would be nice to get a answer to this as I will soon have to decide what to do on my model.If anyone would like the photos I could email them just pm me but afraid I technologically handicapped when it comes to posting them to the forum.

Kevin

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Steve Stuart » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:15 pm

I also agree with Chris in his researches, and my lesser ones, that the Mark IV Spud Box does not have hatches, I am also of the opinion that Lodestar III does not have Hatches, my photos are pretty bad so I won't post them! I was very relieved that there were no Hatches as I was more concerned about making a new exhaust cover that allowed for an angled exhaust run through the Box. A whole can of worms explored in a previous Mark IV posting.
Have fun. Steve

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Chris Hall » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:29 pm

Stephen White wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:20 pm
Can’t quite put my finger on it....but “hatches in the spud box” sounds like an injury a batsman might suffer facing an over-zealous bit of fast bowling.
Or caused by small pieces of sandpaper .... :shock:
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, 2 x limbers and 1 x 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Chris Hall » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:46 pm

Kevin-

It's a free choice, of course, but I've always been passionate about making the Mark IV's represent a particular tank. There's a rich tapestry to choose from, and the research is as rewarding as the build.

I still remain convinced that no Mark IV built in 1917/18 had these mysterious hatches. Those that appear to be on Excellent may be due to the 1960's rebuild - I wonder if any records still exist in Bovington's archives ? So it's really down to the depth of your individual research on your preferred recreation as to whether you think they should be there or not. The tanks I've chosen to recreate (3 of them :shock: :D ) definitely don't have them.

Anyway, as those of us who have 'been through the mill' already have shown, there's enough scope with the Mark IV to turn an already great model into a truly excellent one without worrying about a couple of possible maintenance hatches .... :D

All the best,

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, 2 x limbers and 1 x 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Adrian Harris » Thu Apr 05, 2018 9:24 pm

I was reading on the Landships forum that the Mark IV had two types of radiator; "envelope" and "tubular", in that order. This was to do with a threaded filler pipe in the hull roof ahead of the spud box, but makes me wonder whether this might be a clue, or just another red herring.

Anyway, the historic photographic evidence is that the hatches were rare, if they even existed in the field, so I'll not be changing my roof to include them. I did wonder from the Tamiya kit how you opened the second hatch, as it seemed to be under the exhaust pipe and cover.

One of the drawbacks of Bovington is that everything there seems to be not quite what it seems at first glance, and are either prototypes, test beds, or post war rebuilds.

Adrian.
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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Chris Hall » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:39 pm

Filler pipes for the radiator ? Now that's a different story ......

This is the best picture I can find, taken from an original photograph in my collection of L52 Lyric at the Fort de la Pompelle in 1939 (the Germans scrapped her in 1942):

Lyric 1939.jpg
Firstly, note the lack of hatches inside the Spud Box :lol:. And it clearly shows the angled exhaust cover (I bow to Steve Stuart on this one :oops:). I've numbered the three parts of interest. (1) is probably just something that connects into the exhaust pipe, as it seems to be directly beneath where it should be. (2) I'm not sure about - could be a filler pipe. (3) is some sort of port cover, possibly again for a filler pipe - there wouldn't be any point in having a pistol port there, as the area is well covered from the roof hatch housing.

Debates like this are great - we're rediscovering history lost for 100 years !

Comments welcome,

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, 2 x limbers and 1 x 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Adrian Harris » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:50 pm

I don't want to cause unrest by cross posting images so the Landship thread is here:

http://www.landships.activeboard.com/t5 ... kivs-hull/

The image of the Fort Benning Mark IV in that thread clearly shows that that is indeed another pistol port, and I believe your item no 1 is the filler pipe under discussion.

Adrian.
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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Chris Hall » Fri Apr 06, 2018 1:14 pm

Adrian -

That picture from Aberdeen is very useful (I've seen it before, and should have remembered :oops:). So it's my (1) that we're talking about, with some sort of screw-on filler cap. There's no sign of (2). (3) is there, and looks like it could easily be shown by a spare pistol port cover (still don't know what it's for, though !).

Incidentally, there seems to be a general winge about the lack of decent pictures of Lodestar III in Belgium. The clearest pictures I've found, along with some nice pictures of the inside of Grit in Australia, are in Tankograd WW1 1003 - "Beute-Tanks: British Tanks in German Service Vol. 1". Well worth the purchase, along with Vol. 2, but not cheap so shop around for the best deal.

All the best,

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, 2 x limbers and 1 x 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Adrian Harris » Fri Apr 06, 2018 1:56 pm

> lack of decent pictures of Lodestar III in Belgium

I've seen mention somewhere - might even be here - that the lighting in the museum is very poor, possibly to protect the fabric in the displays.

I wonder if there is also a ban on flash photography, as you get in some NT properties ?

Adrian
R.I.P Margaret I.L.Y

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Michael Cecil » Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:48 pm

Gents,

An observation to contribute to the debate. There are no hatches in the spud box in 4643 'Grit', at the AWM in Canberra, which is one of, if not the, most original MkIV in existence today.

Mike

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Chris Hall » Sat Apr 07, 2018 4:12 pm

Mike -

Thanks for the clarification. As for originality, I think it's a toss-up between Grit, Lodestar III in Belgium, and Deborah in France (although she's had a very rough life 8) ). The one in the USA might also count, although in bad condition. Unfortunately the three UK survivors (Bovington, Ashford and Lincoln) have been subjected to non-sympathetic restoration ... :cry:

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, 2 x limbers and 1 x 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Hatches in the Spud Box ?

Post by Michael Cecil » Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:04 pm

Chris,

It would be interesting to debate what determines a vehicle's originality elsewhere, but for now, with Grit's known history - it was 'factory-fresh' when sent to Australia - we can be sure that MkIVs - at least around that build number (4643) - were hatchless in the spud box.

Mike

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