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A rear view of M113A1 Mineclearer Flint. Its original blast late is fitted over the complete rear hull to prevent damage by exploding mines. The markings are authentic being taken from contemporary photos.

by Paul D. Handel



On 18th May 2003 the School of Military Engineering (SME) and the Australian Army Museum of Military Engineering (AAMME) conducted their annual Military Heritage Day. Open to the public, this event brings together some of the museums of the Army Museum Network, heritage and re-enactment groups, army and air force cadets and model clubs. After an extravaganza last year to celebrate the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) centenary, this year’s event was a little smaller but just as interesting.

Naturally, the engineers showed much of their plant and equipment, usually stored inside but driven outside on this one day each year. One of the most important pieces of equipment in the Engineer Museum is Dozer CR1, which used to grace the entrance to SME on a plinth. This dozer is not only important to the history of the RAE but to Australia’s industrial heritage. It was originally constructed during in the Second World War by Chas Ruwolt of Richmond, Victoria, a large engineering company who constructed much of Australia’s heavy plant and equipment over the years. As with most of our more warlike equipment, such as armoured vehicles, field guns, mortars etc, the coming of the war saw Australia grossly under equipped. The early disaster of Dunkirk, where the British Army left much of its equipment on the beaches of France, meant that any supplies available would be kept by Britain for her own survival. Lend Lease was still to begin and even then when it did start in earnest, the Pearl Harbor attack which brought the United States of America into the war meant that the US needed to equip its own forces as well as those of its allies.


A Caterpillar D* Dozer fitted with angled Rome plough. This type of blade was used in South Vietnam by the Royal Australian Engineers during land clearing operations. The dozer is yet to be fitted with its Vietnam era roll over protection cage.

So Ruwolts faithfully stripped a Caterpillar D7 Dozer and reproduced it almost in its entirety. This unit was destined to be the only fully Australian-built bulldozer, as by the time it was made, the US was able to supply equipment to all of its allies in sufficient quantities. CR1 was restored by Cleary Bros of Wollongong, and its restoration resulted in the unique exhibit first seen at the RAE Centenary Display. The Dozer runs and it a significant item of both military and industrial heritage.

Another unusual piece of equipment was built by 1 Field Squadron RAE in South Vietnam. It is an M113A1 APC used to clear the anti-personnel minefields around Nui Dat. Originally three M113A1s, all destined to return to Australia for rebuild, were modified and used, and were dubbed HMAPCs (Her Majesty’s Armoured Personnel Carrier) Flint, Steele and George. The M113A1 known as Flint was originally requested by the RAE as an historical object back during the Vietnam war, but it was not until early in 2002 that it was released to the AAMME. It had served for many years with 3/9th Light Horse in South Australia. Vehicle number 134226 was refitted with the original blast plate and an rebuilt axle unit similar to that which was fitted in South Vietnam. Tyres were fitted to the axle and the whole unit displayed as it would have looked during Vietnam.

Dominating the “Cust Hut” indoor area is an armoured D8 dozer, which was modified in South Vietnam and used for land clearing. This dozer hit a mine during its service, and the results are displayed by having the dozer’s belly illuminated.

Other unique pieces of engineer plant included the Barber Green Trenching Machine, Pettibone Mulliken Forklift and several stationary pumping engines. For the children, several obsolete Wheelbarow Mark 7 bomb disposal tracked machines were available to drive by their remote control handsets.

A number of Army Museums attended, including the Army Museum Sydney, based at Victoria Barracks, Sydney, The Royal Australian Army Pay Corps Museum from Victoria, the National Artillery Museum from Manly and the Tank Museum from Puckapunyal. The Gunners brought along several very nicely restored artillery pieces – the 6 Pounder Anti-tank Gun in desert livery, the big 17 Pounder Anti-tank gun, the Australian designed and built Short 25 Pounder gun and a Vickers Terni 75mm Field Gun, built in Italy, captured in North Africa and used by the Australian “bush” artillery during the siege of Tobruk.

The RAAC Memorial and Army Tank Museum brought along their recently acquired Swedish Ikv 91 Tank Destroyer, and also had on their stand the M113A1 Fire Support Vehicle belonging to the AAMME, as well as an Australian LP2A Machine Gun Carrier.


The Swedish Ikv 91 Tank Destroyer alongside the M113A1 Fire Support Vehicle (Saladin Turret). The sleek lines of the Ikv and long gun tube contrast with the rather angular shape of the M113.

Several military vehicle groups brought along ex-military vehicles, including and M3 Stuart Light Tank, M8 Armoured Car, several M3 Half Tracks and the usual Saracen and Ferret vehicles. Soft skins included both GMC and Studebaker 2 ½ ton trucks.


An M8 Armoured Car, again privately owned. This vehicle sports a ring mount for the .50 inch machine gun and is not fitted with the usual mudguards, giving it quite a different appearance.

With something of interest for all the family, Military Heritage Day should be attended by the military enthusiast. It is usually held during May each year.





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MHD02 The Barber Greene wheeled entrenching machine, Normally a tracked vehicle, these were built by the US Army for service in South Vietnam. They were used to quickly excavate trenches and the like. This vehicle served in South Vietnam with Australian forces.
MHD03 Dozer CR1, the only dozer ever t be built in Australia. Its D7 origins can be clearly seen.
MHD04 M113A1 Mineclearer Flint. The markings are authentic being taken from contemporary photos. The ale and tyre exploder unit are replicas.
MHD07 The Ikv91 with engine hatch raised. This is pumped up hydraulically and gives unprecedented access to the engine and transmission for servicing and repairs.
MHD08 The Vickers Terni 75mm from the National Artillery Museum. This gun was used during the siege at Tobruk and is one of many fine artillery pieces held at the Museum in Manly NSW.
MHD09 A Studebaker 2 ½ ton 6x6 truck displayed by a private collector. Studebakers were used extensively by the Australian Army particularly in the post-war period. It is a pity this one is painted in US markings as they were comparatively rare in that army.
MHD11 An M3 Stuart Light Tank finished in US colours. The .30 inch machine gun on the anti-aircraft mount is covered with its protective canvas bag.
MHD12 A rear view of the Stuart with tool stowage on the rear hull.

Article Text and Photographs Copyright © 2003 by Paul D. Handel
Page Created 19 June, 2003
Last Updated 18 June, 2003

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