British tank collector finds five gold bars inside fuel tank of Iraqi tank

The Sun has posted an article about an unlikely find by British AFV collector Nick Mead.  While undertaking restoration work on an Iraqi “T54/69” (this designation is given in the article, its unclear whether this is a Soviet built T-54/55 or a Chinese Type 59), they discovered five bars of gold hidden in a fuel tank!

nintchdbpict000314875250Nick Mead, 55, discovered the five gold bars in the Russian T54/69 while restoring it to add to his collection of 150 military vehicles.

He and mechanic Todd Chamberlain were filming themselves prising open the diesel tank in case they found munitions and needed to show it to bomb disposal crews.

Instead, they pulled out the bars, weighing up to 12lb — 5kg — apiece.

Todd, 50, said a quick calculation suggested they were worth in excess of £2million.

He added: “We didn’t know what to do. You can’t exactly take five gold bullion bars down to Cash Converters without questions being asked, so we called the police.”

Nick runs Tanks-a-Lot, giving petrolheads the chance to drive any of his tanks on his farm in Helmdon, Northants.

He traded in an Army lorry and an Abbot self-propelled gun for the T54/69 in a deal worth about £30,000 after seeing it advertised on eBay.

Todd and Nick had already found machine gun ammunition while stripping down the tank and were worried they would find guns.

Instead, they discovered the gold, which they believe was looted by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait during the Gulf War.

The tank was later captured and shipped to Britain.

Nick said: “They must have cut a hole in the fuel tank and rammed it full of gold bars.”

After calling police, two officers took away the bars and gave them a receipt.

The military buffs have stored it in a safety deposit box in London. Nick said: “Even if I don’t get any of the gold back I will still have my beautiful tank.”

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said they could not comment “for operational reasons”.

Tankograd Blog on the T-54

Last month the blog Tankograd posted one of their characteristically epic pieces on the T-54 tank.  This post is full of details and images describing the vehicle in great detail.  Tankograd blog is a must-read for fans of Soviet armor.  Click on the headline below to go to the Tankograd post.

Tankograd: T-54 Red Dawn

325The T-54 was reasonably advanced for its era, arguably more so than the American Patton family up til the M60, but it could never quite be described as being on the cutting edge. It is rationally constructed and technically excellent where the traditional three criteria of mobility, firepower and protection are concerned, but it was also plagued by drawbacks that may not be immediately obvious at first glance. Some of the drawbacks have received quite a lot of attention, like the issue of internal space. Others, like the cooling system that threw dust 20 feet into the air, are less well known. The usual criticism that Soviet tanks had subpar fire control systems is partially true with the T-54, as it lacked a rangefinding device. But what is less well known is that the sight was very well made, very convenient to use and had higher magnification than the ones used in contemporary Western tanks. A thorough inspection of the tank will tell you that the T-54 was very competitive for its time, and remained capable of fulfilling front line roles well after newer and better designs took its place in the limelight.

More often than not, the Soviet military industry had been plagued by lackluster technological capabilities in some fields. This was especially true immediately after the end of the war. Some factories were short of qualified personnel, worsening the quality of the tanks they built. Nizhny Tagil, for instance, was almost totally devoid of experienced and qualified staff after the war ended, as most of the Kharkov Design Bureau workers and engineers had decided to return to their headquarters in Kharkov in Soviet Ukraine once the war was over.

Much, much more here.