Letters on Aluminium Bonnet
Please apologise the inconvenience this message causes you, but it
concerns a historical point that I would like to resolve about the
manufacture of Ferguson tractors.
We know that a small number of Ferguson TE, TEA, TEF… tractors were
assembled between 1947 and 1952 with pressed aluminium body parts.
As far as I know, these parts are systematically non-load-bearing and
concern either the side panels of the bonnet, the grids, the bonnet, the
dashboard or the fuel tank.
I don’t know of any rear fenders or aluminum seats, for example.
We also know that Ferguson tractors were manufactured at Banner Lane’s
shadow factory in Coventry.
The plant was built and financed in 1939 by the British Air Ministry on
93,000 square metres and rent to the Standard Motor Company who has had
to carry out work “in the shadows” of its skills as an automotive engine
manufacturer, parts for 20,000 radial wave jacket engines Hercules VIII
type, as a subcontractor for the manufacturer Bristol Aeroplane.
The Standard Motor Company also contributed to manufacturing at its
Canley industrial site, which came into service in 1916 and was located
in the southwest suburbs of Coventry:
3000 fuselages for Bristol Beaufighter aircraft.
1100 De Havilland Mosquito, mainly the FB VI type.
750 Airspeed Oxfords.
4000 Jeeps and Beaverette light armoured vehicles.
The attribution of the origin of aluminium parts in the bodywork of
Ferguson’s tractors is often justified by the state of the British
economy at the end of the Second World War, by the appalling winter of
1946-1947, by shortages of raw materials, particularly steel and finally
by the rationing implemented by Clément Attlee governement between 1945
There were therefore deficiencies in the supply of steel filled by the
use of aluminium plates.
The main issue I would like to resolve is the exact origin of these
It is said on some websites that they would be parts of the cabin of
reformed or wrecked aircraft.
No documents, no sources, no evidence are published to support these
statements. Nothing exists other than the facts that show that aluminum
It so happens that I have on a TEA tractor, an entiere hood cover
completely made of aluminium, which is nothing original; but what is
unique, I think, is that under the original paint now very worn, you can
see in its middle the letters and numbers: BB3 ODQ, of a seize near
eight milimeter high and large each, over which the Ferguson grey paint
was applied in the factory.
This provides a serious indication that this is a reuse of an aluminium
sheet, previously used for another purpose, with a marking unrelated to
Do you have a specific clue to identify this code ?
Knowing that the Standard Motor Company has manufactured fuselages parts
for the Bristol Beaufighter heavy fighter plane in Coventry, could the
code B.B 3 have anything to do with this aircraft?
Maybe, the BB.3 code could have a signification for any Bristol plane
like the Beaufort, or the Blenheim ones ?
I hope to be able to count on your understanding and help, and I would
like to thank you in advance.
Editor’s note ; If anyone can provide any further information or has any answers raised in this letter please contact Website Co-ordinator / Gary Anderson and we will forward as appropriate.