A military buff who bought a Gulf War tank in an online auction was shell-shocked when he uncovered gold bars worth around £2 million stashed in the fuel tank.
Nick Mead, 55, and his mechanic friend Todd Chamberlain were dismantling the former Iraqi Army T54 tank when they made their astonishing discovery.
The pair always video the work they carry out on military vehicles as they have often come across live ammunition and other munitions.
The video is to help bomb disposal experts in the event of an emergency.
This time they filmed as they carefully opened the fuel tank – and inside were five gold bars weighing 12 pounds each.
They filmed as they had already found live machine gun ammunition in the tank and the video would help answer questions from the authorities if they found more weapons and had to explain where they had come from.
Looted in Gulf War
“We didn’t know what to do. Heavy gold bars are not easy to dispose of without people asking questions so we called the police,” said Mead.
After making some inquiries he believes the gold was looted by Iraqi soldiers from Kuwait during the First Gulf War in the 1990s.
They stashed their haul in the fuel tank to avoid officers finding out, only to lose contact with their vehicle when Saddam Hussein’s army retreated in the face of an onslaught from US and British forces.
“They cut a hole in the tank, filled it with the gold bars and then sealed it up again,” said Mead.
Tank swapped on eBay
He swapped a military lorry and self-propelled gun for the tank with a seller on eBay. The deal came to around £30,000.
The tank was bought as a wreck for restoration by Mead.
Mead regularly buys and sells military vehicles and has a collection of around 150 on his farm in Helmdon, Northamptonshire.
Police took the gold into custody to investigate where it might have come from.
Tens of thousands of T54 tanks were made. The design is Russian, but many were made in China, including the model bought by Mead.