Ainscough Crane Hire has worked with Metcalfe Farms Haulage in lifting two historic tanks on to a concrete plinth at Catterick Garrison.
Catterick is the largest garrison of the British Army, comprising several barracks with a population of about 13,000. The garrison is located near the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors. It primarily serves as a base for the 4th Infantry Brigade and supports the Infantry Training Centre.
Metcalfe Farms Haulage was hired by the Ministry of Defence to relocate two decommissioned tanks. Such vehicles are known as Gate Guardians when presented to military units to be positioned in prominent positions at the entrance to army barracks.
In this instance, the Gate Guardians would serve as a visible reminder of the heritage of 4 Armoured Brigade. Created in 1939 as one of the original Desert Rat formations, it served in the Western Desert campaign in Tunisia and Italy during World War Two, in addition to Normandy and the Rhine Crossing. Following the end of the war, the Brigade was disbanded but its successor formation, 4 Guards Brigade, was a key part of the British Forces in Germany during the Cold War, reforming as an Armoured Brigade in 1959. It went on to be deployed in both Gulf Wars, as well as in the Kosovo Conflict. The Brigade was relocated to Catterick in 2008 and re-titled as an Infantry Brigade.
Ainscough’s role in the operation to move the vehicles was overseen by Igor Scalas, Ainscough’s Heavy Crane project engineer. Igor undertook meticulous preparatory works including the use of AUTOCAD and non-destructive testing in order to design a lift that would ensure the tanks could be lifted safely.
Igor’s analysis eventually led to the use of a Liebherr LTM 1750-9.1 with 204t of counterweight to lift the first tank, a T55 – a Russian tank that was captured from the Iraqi Republican Guard during Operation Granby in 1991 by British Forces, including 4 Armoured Brigade, during the first Gulf War. It was returned to the UK as a war trophy and was gifted to 19 Mechanised Brigade at Catterick in 1993.
The second lift was for a Chieftain MK6 Main Battle Tank, which had initially been used in 1969 with the 13/18th Hussars and 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, units of 4 Armoured Brigade based in Munster, Germany, before being transferred to the Berlin Armoured Squadron from 1979-85. The tank went on to be used as a training vehicle at Catterick Garrison before being decommissioned in 1996 when it was presented to 19 Mechanised Brigade at Catterick as a Gate Guardian.
Here, an LTM1750-9.1 crane with a 204t counterweight was once again used, with the lift a 60t at 28m radius on main boom.
Igor worked as the appointed person on the lift, with Carl Barton as the crane supervisor, Ashley Winter as a crane operator and Sean Mason and James Laid as the slinger and signaller.
Igor said: “This was a very challenging project – not only was extensive preparatory work required, but we were lifting vehicles of huge historical significance. Ainscough Crane Hire is a company that has close ties to the Armed Forces, with a proud history of employing ex-servicemen and women, and so we were well aware of the importance of lifting these tanks safely.
“Through our use of the latest technology to prepare the lift to excellent delivery of our team on the day, we were able to securely lift the two Gate Guardians on to the plinths. They now stand as a proud reminder of the 4 Armoured Brigade’s service to our country and the world over the past 80 years. It was a real honour for Ainscough to play a small part in preserving the legacy of 4 Armoured Brigade.”