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  #1  
Old 26-11-08, 13:58
Jared Archibald Jared Archibald is offline
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Default Clarktor Aircraft Tugs in Britain and Australia

G'day everyone,
there is a bit of a story to this query so please bear with me as I explain......

Two years ago I purchased a well-worn but running and quite modified Clarktor tug from a surplus auction here in Darwin. It runs a side-valve 6 cylinder Chrysler engine, a 3 speed crash box, and weighs in at about 2.5 ton (the rear guards are over 2 inches thick and weigh half a ton each). I have been using it on the block to give the kids rides and to drag carrier hulls and other things around the place. Its build plates are long gone and I could never find a stamped number - I assumed it dated from the 1950s or 60s. All I knew of its history was that its last user was the Northern Territory Police Air Wing in Alice Springs.

Some time ago I found a Clark Equipment Yahoo Forum which I lurked on and found out quite a bit of information - most importantly that the tug seemed to date from the late 1940s due to its running gear layout.

A few nights ago I revisited the site and found a reference to all Clarktor tugs having their serial number stamped into the right side of the rear bumper. AH HA! I went out with the torch and couldn't see anything - too many layers of paint. Some judicious use of a scraper though revealed a number: BH-184. This didn't fit any of the usual serials on the charts so I sent it off to the moderator of the forum.
I received a reply in less than a day. The Clarktor I have was built in 1941 and is a British Heavy model (hence BH). It is the 184th one built of a contract of 1512 that were manufactured for the "British Ministry of War Transport". It was shipped out of New York on the 18 November 1941. The moderator also found the actual build sheet for the tug, scanned it, and put it on the forum - amazing!

This is all fantastic information but it raises more and more questions. This is where I am hoping that the members on this forum may be able to help.

First of all, how did this machine get to Australia? Did the "British Ministry of War Transport" buy enough in their contract to ship numbers of them to all Commonwealth countries (or maybe just Australia...)? Or did it come after the war? (I think this is somewhat unlikely).

Mr. Hayward, would you have any information (or access to it) on contracts that the British let for Clark tugs in 1940-41? With your comprehensive work on so many other wartime contracts you may have come across something.

Would there be records in the AWM that with a lot of work one could discover the ARN? I think I have read though that the RAAF records are lost/don't exist.

Are there any other owners of these beaut machines out there in MLU? If so I would love to hear from you.

Any information on this tug, or any Clark tugs, or parts etc. etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Jared
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  #2  
Old 26-11-08, 14:20
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Hanno Spoelstra Hanno Spoelstra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared Archibald View Post
Any information on ... Clark tugs
Jared,

Quite an exciting find. Could you please post a picture of your "British Heavy"?

Below follows a Life Magazine Side view of Air Corps tractor for pulling planes out to field (Location: US, date taken: 1941).

Regards,
Hanno

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  #3  
Old 26-11-08, 19:07
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Default Clark

A very good pal works for Clark and I have dialogued with him and a colleague of his about the wartime products. There are photos of a Ross Carrier tug, as well as a Clark Carloader Forlkift and a four-wheeled Clark Clarkat Aircraft Tug for use on Aircraft Carriers produced by the Clark Equipment Company, Clark Tructractor Division, of Buchanan, Michigan and acquired by the Ministry of Supply in our new book. Pearsons of Liverpool handled them and prepared them for the Ministry. I can imagine that the Clark tug could have been ordered by the M of War Transport, but through the MofS.

The guy I contacted was Joe Swelnis.

Brian at the REME Museumm commented a while back:

Quote:
You have come up with a poser there because, when the Record Cards were distributed from Chilwell originally, they covered A, B and C vehicles whereas forklifts and things of that ilk were for the most part in a different category. Certainly after the War they were listed as Mechanical Handling Equipment (MHE) and only later some which might be driven on public roads were given standard Army type registrations. As far as I know they remained in the MHE category though rough terrain cranes and forklifts may have been categorised as C Vehicles. I am not sure if this MHE category was in use during the War.

The best bet is to try both the RE Museum which has the C Vehicle cards and the RLC Museum just in case something is tangled up with the B Vehcle cards. If there were equivalent cards for MHE I have never heard what happened to them.

Although it may not affect what you are doing, I know some of this equipment was shipped to the Middle East, probably direct from the USA, because cranes were stripped from a batch of Hysters and fitted to AEC Matadors to convert them to recovery vehicles. What became of the industrial crane chassis I know not but they would have made viable industrial tractors to pull trailers around a depot or base workshop. I know that batches of WD numbers were allocated to overseas Theatres for them to use on vehicles acquired locally or direct from the USA or Canada but I do not know how they numbered MHE received direct.

On another tack I have in my collection a US Army QM Corps catalogue of industrial cranes and forklifts etc similar to the Ord Corps TM 9-2800 for A and B vehicles. It might prove useful if you have any pictures of industrial equipment still unidentified.
If that is the case, I can further imagine that Clark tugs were sent to the Mid-East and then issued to the RAAF....and then sold. In due course they were shipped to Australasia.
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  #4  
Old 26-11-08, 22:39
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IIRC one MJCQ member has a Clarktor he is restoring here in Brisbane.

Steve.
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  #5  
Old 27-11-08, 05:30
edstorey edstorey is offline
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Default Aircraft Tug

Is this a Clarktor Aircraft Tug? Interesting 'bomb load', this image came from "Manufacture of Clothing 1945-53" QMC Historical Studies Series II No. 1.

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  #6  
Old 28-11-08, 14:28
Jared Archibald Jared Archibald is offline
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Default Pics of the Clarktor

G'day again everyone,

I will now attempt to load up a couple of images of my Clarktor tug.

The first is of it on the car trailer on the way home.

The second is showing what it does best - dragging things around.

The third is a pdf of the build card. This includes details of 5 machines - the one I have is BH-184.

Hanno, the Life Magazine picture is of the same type of tug - the rear hub on mine is a different design but the rest of it is very similar.

Ed, the tug in your pic is one of the light duty types - it only has single rear wheels as you can see the lugs at the edge of the rim. A beaut pic.

David, I believe the moderator of the Clark tug group on Yahoo is the same Joe that you have corresponded with. I will continue my dialogue with him.

Snowy, I have recently made contact with a bloke in SE Queensland who is restoring a Clark. His name is Peter.

Thanks to everyone who has responded to this thread - please keep them coming.

Jared
Attached Thumbnails
Clarktor tug on way home.JPG   Clarktor tug at work.jpg  
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File Type: pdf BH-184 Build Card.pdf (83.2 KB, 60 views)
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  #7  
Old 28-11-08, 16:55
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Hello Jared,

Attached photo is from the Clarktor-6 which resides here in the shed.
The serialnumber is CM-33-441807 and this number can be found on the chassis rails near the rear axle and also on the rear beam behind the rear wheels.

This example was pulled out from a 30-ft high pile of scrap which had to be cleared after having been there since the early 50's.
In the meantime the restauration has been finished.
Although this example is a light-duty version it pulls my Staghound through the grassfield with ease....

According to the manuals (War Department TM10-1637 and the Clarktor published "Clarktor-6 Service Manual") there are 3 models, the "light duty" , the heavy duty "Mill 44" and the heavy duty "Mill 50".
Engines used are Chrysler T105, T125, T112 or T116 models.


With best regards,

Marco Hogenkamp
Lichtenvoorde
The Netherlands
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clarktor-6-1.jpg  
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  #8  
Old 29-11-08, 18:59
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Default I had a heavy version here

Gave it to Simon Bormley in Blackburn.

The engine was a 1941-45 T214 Dodge unit, three speed box ( I think standard Dodge) and Clarks made the reduction drive rear axle. Easy to identify the heavy version as the cast iron rear wings / fenders are 4" thick.

Clarks made loads of other stuff in the way of axles and transmission parts for GMC DUKW I remember.

Gordon
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  #9  
Old 30-11-08, 17:31
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Default and Canada

Forgetting us Colonials again, are ya! Here's a pic of a Clarktor AC tug taken in '45 at Gander, NFLD.
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Gander 1945.jpg  
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  #10  
Old 17-12-08, 16:05
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Here´s another survivor, based in Holland, pictured at the Wings & Wheels show in Belgium.
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DSC01761.jpg  
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Last edited by Hanno Spoelstra; 16-01-09 at 11:45. Reason: two additional pictures added
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  #11  
Old 16-01-09, 11:31
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Some more pics I found on my hard disk:
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TugDAAF.jpg  
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  #12  
Old 16-01-09, 11:40
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And then some:
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P7090010.jpg   P7090013.jpg   P7090015.jpg  
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  #13  
Old 27-01-09, 10:32
lynx42 lynx42 is offline
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Look in the distant background.

French Army mechanics busy assembling parts on the chassis of 3/4 ton American-made Army trucks provided by America's Lend Lease to be used by French troops training in the field, at American Army Service Forces supply depot..
Location: Oran, Algeria
Date taken: 1943
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c.jpg  
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  #14  
Old 27-01-09, 10:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynx42 View Post
Look in the distant background.
Well spotted!

Here´s a link to the original.

- Hanno
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clark oran algeria.jpg  
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  #15  
Old 27-01-09, 10:49
lynx42 lynx42 is offline
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Thanks Hanno.
Here's another one from the same sorce.
Rick

Quote:
LIFE Magazine
Lend Lease Equipment In France
French Army mechanics busy assembling tires on the chassis of 3/4 ton American-made Army trucks provided by America's Lend Lease to be used by French troops training in the field, at American Service Forces supply depot..
Location: Oran, Algeria
Date taken: 1943
Photographer: Margaret Bourke-White
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c2.jpg  
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  #16  
Old 11-02-09, 11:49
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From the Clark site:
Quote:
1927
The Clarktor tow tractor is introduced. The Clarktor was used to pull airplanes and warehouse trailer trains. It was equipped with an electric self-starter, the first industrial truck or tractor to have this feature as standard equipment. The Clarktor remained in production until 1987.
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  #17  
Old 17-03-09, 14:24
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Survivor in Belgium.
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  #18  
Old 24-04-10, 13:10
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here are some photos of me old mans new toy, model no fct 16, serial no 14-303-. then the plate on engine are model ind-30. type 1027 then onother number beside that which is 47173. any imformation this would be greatly appreciated. thanks. jack troughton, matamata, new zealand
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SDC10477.jpg   SDC10476.jpg   SDC10478.jpg   SDC10479.jpg   SDC10480.jpg  

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Old 23-08-10, 20:13
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So can anyone throw any light on how and where the 3 wheel CLARKAT B tug was used during WW2 in USAAF service?

Just a few survive in the UK, amongst them the one pictured below.

I imagine they would be more suited for warehouse duties on concrete surfacing, and it is reported they were used as fighter tugs on aircraft carriers.

Believe it or not this little tug is rated to pull 40 tons!
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Old 06-11-10, 03:35
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Pearsons of Liverpool (UK) was very active during WWII prepping Clarkats and Clarktors for the British armed forces.

Here is a link about a book that was published three years about Pearsons: http://www.pearsonsofliverpool.co.uk/

Joe
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Old 06-11-10, 04:50
Lynn Eades Lynn Eades is offline
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Old 06-11-10, 10:20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jact66 View Post
here are some photos of me old mans new toy, model no fct 16, serial no 14-303-. then the plate on engine are model ind-30. type 1027 then onother number beside that which is 47173. any imformation this would be greatly appreciated. thanks. jack troughton, matamata, new zealand
Now that looks to be the same model as I gave to Simon Bromley in Blackburn. The important different is the thickness of the rear wing castings, about 4" rather than the standard 2".

It is as heavy as it looks.
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  #23  
Old 08-11-10, 18:54
old clark guy old clark guy is offline
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Default Clarktor FCT46

Clark's records show that Clarktor serial number FCT46-14-303 was shipped to R.R. Fisher & Co., Ltd in New Zealand on 19 December 1957.

Joe
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  #24  
Old 08-11-10, 23:41
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Here's one in service with the RCAF, dated 1949.

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  #25  
Old 19-07-13, 01:01
Lang Lang is offline
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Another Thread revival.

Jared, How is your tug progressing.

Very mysterious. My tug number is BH-173, just a few before yours.

Looking at lots of wartime photos it appears the Australian Air Force had almost no tugs. They used farm type tractors almost exclusively right through Korea before building up their airfield tug collection in the 50's.

Attached is a photo of my tug at Caboolture and the only wartime photo I can find of Australians with a Clarktor in the Middle East (maybe this is yours or mine!). Another photo of the hundreds showing RAAF airfield tractors. This makes sense for my 1941 tug and yours which were delivered to the British and probably issued to the RAAF in Africa who brought them home.
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Mustang Caboolture.jpg  
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Last edited by Lang; 20-07-13 at 06:55.
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  #26  
Old 20-07-13, 01:39
Mike Cecil Mike Cecil is offline
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Default RAAF Clarktor Tractors

The first recorded Clarktor tractors in the RAAF were purchased in early 1946. They were Clarktor 6 models with serials commencing with/prefixed with CM33, and were listed as 'Tractor, Stores'.

Only a small number were purchased in a single batch, with no subsequent purchases between then and the mid-1960s (when my 'good' data gets kind of, errr, 'patchy'....).

RAN also operated Clarktor aircraft tugs /tractors on carrier decks (Sydney, Melbourne) and at the RANAS at Nowra.

Mike C
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  #27  
Old 20-07-13, 02:46
Lang Lang is offline
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Mike,

The Clark people in USA have sent me all the production info.

As we said Jarrod's and my BH (British Heavy) series CT6 Clarktors are from a British order Government Specification 91-66 in 1941. 690 were bult in Michigan and shipped to UK/Middle East.

The CT6 CM-33 series you mention were built 1944/45 for a total of 3,065 units. They only had single back wheels.

I imagine there would have been many left in Australia by the Americans that finished up in RAAF use. They must have carried on through the 50's mainly with tractors??? Korean war photos of RAAF Meteors all have tractors pulling them.

Lang

Last edited by Lang; 20-07-13 at 07:00.
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  #28  
Old 20-07-13, 02:58
Lang Lang is offline
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YEP Looks like the RAAF had tractors. New delivery handover of Fergies in 50's.
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TractorRAAF.jpg  

Last edited by Lang; 20-07-13 at 06:57.
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  #29  
Old 20-07-13, 09:08
Mike Cecil Mike Cecil is offline
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Lang,

I was not doubting what you had said, simply adding to it: Clarktor tractors were not registered with the RAAF during the war, and only 'Tractor, Stores' were registered after the war, and then in 1946.

Do either of yours or Jarrods have RAAF registration numbers? I'd be interested to hear if they do - it would give me something positive to work with. But the chassis/serial numbers you have quoted don't appear in the RAAF records that I have located. That leads me to wonder/ask why you think they were RAAF-operated Clarktor tractors? What markings were evident on either tractor when you received them?

Mike C
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Old 20-07-13, 10:22
Lang Lang is offline
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Mike,

I have no evidence whatsoever our tugs were operated by the RAAF just weight of probability.

If they were from American delivered serial numbers you would have to conclude they were American stocks left here (whether used by the RAAF or sold to civilians directly).

Being British 1941 delivered tugs and both ours so close in serial numbers I would assume they were issued to the RAAF somewhere - most probably Middle East. The photo of the RAAF operated tug in Libya adds some possibility these two and others were brought back to Australia from there. Maybe they were handed to the Australians in the Japan Occupation Force or Korea or Malaya?
As you know any equipment picked up by these "deals" might have unit, formation or even theatre records but have absolutely nothing in the armed forces central aquisition records.

To my mind it seems unlikely they were some sort of post war civil import but who knows.

Lang

Last edited by Lang; 20-07-13 at 12:02.
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