|The standard Landrover Series 2A 109 inch wheelbase, GS or Cargo/Personnel version. The distinctive cutaway mudguards are seen in this view. This is a vehicle of 161 Recce Squadron, at Holsworthy in the late 1970s|
The long wheelbase Series 2A Landrovers entered service with the
Australian Army soon after the model’s civilian introduction in 1961. They
had the longest fleet life of any Landrover in Australian Army service, with
many of the specialised vehicles serving until 1991, a period of some 30
years. In this article we shall look at some of the variants of the 109 inch
wheelbase model. As the Series 2a long wheelbase version had the most number
of variants, both official and unofficial, in service, several postings will
be required to cover all the types.
As with the short wheelbase vehicle, the Series 2A long wheelbase models were characterised by a number of uniquely Australian modifications, the most well known and easily identifiable being the cut – away front mudguards. The mudguards were cut higher and wider as well as being angled rather than the rounded types of the civilian vehicles. A brushguard was fitted to the front of the vehicle, and bumperrettes at the rear which also served to carry jerrycans. Twin fuel tanks were fitted, with a filler on each side of the vehicle immediately behind the doors. The spare wheel was carried on the bonnet, with fitting to carry pioneer tools on the tops of the front mudguards.
It should also be noted that very late model Series 2A vehicles delivered to the Army around the early 1970s sometimes had the headlights mounted in the front mudguards instead of the radiator grille. Some still retained the cut away mudguards characteristic of the Series 2A, whilst others had standard rounded mudguards. This sometimes erroneously leads to them being identified as Series 3 vehicles.
The official designation of the base vehicle was Truck, Utility, ¾ ton, GS Landrover. Variants which will be covered in this posting include the standard Cargo/Personnel carrier, Cargo with winch, Fitted for Radio, Station Wagon, Carryall/ Panel, Topographical Survey and Ceremonial.
The standard model was nearly always referred to as the “GS”, an
abbreviation for General Service. Military Vehicles carrying the designation
GS are suitable for use in extended cross country operations, and are fitted
with suitable military fittings such as larger capacity fuel tanks, towing
pintle, blackout lighting, carriers or clips for pioneer tools and jerrycans
and heavy duty brushguards. (As an aside, the categorization of vehicles was
changed in the 1980s, and the new designations were based on Mobility
Classes, these being MC 1 to 4. ) The Landrover GS had all these features.
The body was open topped, with a drop down tailgate. Four folding seats, two per side, which in theory could carry eight soldiers, were mounted lengthways in the rear compartment. A canvas canopy was normally fitted, and this had a roll down section to enclose the rear. Flaps were mostly fitted in the canopies, in the rear and on each side, which could be rolled up to provide windows. Some canopies were made from rubberised canvas, which gave then a shiny appearance.
|A Landrover Series 2A GS from the rear. The camouflage scheme is simply mud, streaked on by the owner unit. Note the later type reflective number plate.|
The GS vehicle could be fitted with any number of official and unofficial modifications. One official modification was the installation of Stretcher frames in the rear which could carry two standard army litters. Sometimes, but not always, these vehicles carried red crosses in a white circle on the doors and tailgate. There was no provision for the treatment of patients whilst in the vehicle.
A line-laying vehicle, carrying ladders, poles and cable reels was modified by the Royal Australian Signals to undertake the laying of telephone wires in the field.
The Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) used modified GS long wheelbase version as long range patrol vehicles in at least three variations. These will be covered in a later posting.
At least one vehicle was fitted with EVA (Electronic Velocity Analyser) for use with Locating Batteries of the Royal Australian Artillery.
A portion of GS variants were fitted with a front mounted winch, driven by a power take-off. The winch fitted neatly into the space between the front bumper bar and the radiator grille. The winch was manufactured by Bamford and had a single line capacity of 6000 pounds.
Those vehicles designated as Fitted For Radio (FFR) were so modified that they represent a uniquely Australian vehicle. As with the Series 2 FFRs, the tailgate was removed and replaced with a cut-out solid body rear, which allowed easy entry and exit fro the vehicle rear body. Only the rear two seats were fitted, the forward end of the rear body being fitted with a radio shelf on which various radio configurations could be mounted. Batteries for the radios were mounted on the floor of the vehicle under the shelf, and a fluted vent was fitted to the exterior of the body on the right side behind the fuel filler cap. Aerial mountings, depending on the configuration of radios fitted, could be mounted on either side of the rear body. A canvas canopy, with an extension to cover the rear body cut out was also fitted.
|A view inside the rear body of an FFR Landrover, showing the radio mounting tray and the location for the batteries.|
FFRs were generally fitted with 24 volt electrical systems to allow for the charging of the radio batteries. The exhaust system was modified so that the muffler was at the front of the vehicle below the bumper bar and exhausted to the right side.
Some FFR vehicles also were fitted with a winch.
The Station Wagon was intended for the use of senior commanders and their staff. These vehicles had a solid roof with spaced heat protection, an additional door each side, three seats mounted conventionally as well as a rear door which gave access to two standard longitudinal seats. There was a glass panel in the curve of the roof on each side approximately level with the rear side door. Like the FFR vehicles, the exhaust system was mounted at the front.
|A Station Wagon variant belonging to Canungra Transport Unit. This vehicle mounts a large steel frame on the brushguard for carrying fold up chairs of students whilst undertaking field training. Note the tropical roof is painted white.|
During the 1980s, the Land Warfare Centre at Canungra in Queensland had a large contingent of these vehicles. They were used by student syndicates on many of the course run at the centre for the purposes of reconnaissance. The vehicles there came in standard Series 2A configuration, Series 2A with cut away guards and headlights in the mudguards and in late Series 2A with rounded guards and headlights in the mudguards. A feature of these vehicles was the large angle iron steel basket mounted on the brushguard, which was used for carrying the “Chairs, Millionaire” of the students in the syndicate.
The Carryall was a standard GS vehicle which had a solid rear canopy with two glass windows in each side. It retained the longitudinal seating and had a lift up rear opening and retained the vehicle tailgate. There does not appear to be a lot of this type produced. A spaced heat roof as per the Station Wago was fitted.
|The Panel version of the Landrover. This is a vehicle of the 3rd Brigade based in Townsville. This Brigade was the Operational Deployment Force (ODF) and was always on standby. The vehicle carries its camouflage net and poles on the roof, and hessian on the brushguard to cover the lower part of the vehicle. This photo was taken around 1985, when the ODF vehicles all sported the unique green brown and pink colour scheme.|
The Panel was similar to the Carryall, except the side panels of the canopy were solid. Panels were used extensively by the Royal Australian Signals for specialist communications equipments, including radio relay stations, cipher equipment, line intercept and telegraph terminal equipment. All these types of equipment were not as durable in a field environment as the normal radio sets, and so a covered and relatively dust free, and secure, operating environment could be provided. Sometimes radio aerial mounts were fitted to the exterior.
The Topographical Survey vehicles were modified Carryalls, with steel tubing running from each side of the brushguard up and over the roof, to which it was fixed. The purpose of this was presumably to deflect tree branches when bush bashing, and also to serve as a roof rack for the carriage of stores. These vehicles were used to carry equipment for terrain analysis, the results being used for map making. At least one vehicle photographed had standard tyres in lieu of the more normal bartreads.
In 1983, it was decided to replace the existing in-service funeral
vehicle (either a Dodge AT4-114 or an International C1200 1 ton 4x2 Truck)
with a standardised Ceremonial vehicle based on the Series 2A ¾ ton
Landrover. The Ceremonial Landrover would be used in two roles – that of a
wreath carrier towing a gun carriage for military funerals, and as an
inspection vehicle for VIPs during ceremonial occasions. To do this, two
separate bolt in units for the rear cargo body were designed.
The selected vehicles had the brushguard, unit sign holders, pioneer tool stowage brackets, spare wheel mount, canopy bows, rear seats, tailgate, rear bumpers and NATO towing plug all removed. The rear interior was then covered with filler panels to present a clean skin. A padded panel fitted in the former seating position and behind the front cabin area. Padded backrests were also fitted.
Brackets were welded to the rear of the vehicle and steps were manufactured. Two inserts, a wreath holder and a ceremonial piece with chromed rails, were manufactured and fitted for the appropriate occasion. The rear towing pintle was relocated, and vacuum brakes, with dash mounted trailer handbrake control were fitted. A pennant holder was fitted to the bonnet.
The vehicles were automotively as perfect as possible, and were repainted in high gloss Bronze Green paint with full gloss black undersides. These vehicles are still in use.
An unusual modification of a GS vehicle was photographed by the author in
1977 at the then 21st Supply Battalion vehicle park. It had no doors,
windscreen or canopy, and the rear body was simply a flat plate with angled
wheel arches and two low mounted rails.
It was similar in appearance to a UK modified Landrover shown in the 1962 edition of “British Military Vehicles”, produced by the FVRDE at Chertsey. The UK modification was produced to achieve minimal bulk and allow the vehicles to be stacked on top of each other during air transport.
This explanation is offered in lieu of any available data on the Australian vehicle described and pictured in this article.
My long-time friend Norm Weeding has kindly allowed the use of some of his photos for this series of articles and Mr Laurie Wright has, as always, provided timely and accurate advice from his vast knowledge of Australian military vehicles.
|A long wheelbase Landrover of Melbourne Transport Unit being used as an escort vehicle for tank transporters. The large danger sign and orange flashing light are typical when a vehicle is used for escorting large, wide loads on public roads.|
|An unusual colour scheme for a Landrover. This vehicle belonged to the Fire Section of the School of Military Engineering and was photographed there in 1976. A bar is fitted over the roof on which is mounted a radio aerial and loudspeaker.|
|This vehicle is fitted with stretcher frames, which can just be seen protruding over the vehicle rear. The frames are in the folded position. One rail on each side is pivoted towards the vehicle centre line so that two stretchers can be carried.|
|This Landrover carries EVA – the Electronic Velocity Analysing equipment used by Divisional Locating Batteries of the Royal Australian Artillery to track enemy mortar and artillery rounds. Note how the vehicle’s tailgate has been removed.|
|A view of the EVA vehicle from the front. Next to the Landrover is the Army’s standard ½ ton trailer, normally towed by the Landrover family.|
|A late model Series 2A vehicle, with headlights mounted in the mudguards, but still retaining the cut away mudguards. The adjacent vehicle is fitted with a winch. This photo was taken at 31 Supply Battalion in 1975.|
|A winch equipped model belonging to Headquarters 2nd Division, in 1985. The winch rollers can be seen in the lower centre of the brushguard.|
|Trialling the winch vehicle in heavy going at Monegeeta. This vehicle is still painted in bronze green, and has an early number plate. (Department of Defence Photo)|
|A winch equipped vehicle converted into an RA Sigs linelayer. The frames carry ladders and telephone poles and the linelaying cable reels are mounted in the rear. Note the canopy has be modified to cover the driving compartment only. (Photo courtesy Norm Weeding.)|
|A Station Wagon variant belonging to Canungra Transport Unit from the rear. The rear door is seen in this view, and a redplate for the attchment of chromed stars when carrying general officers is still fitted. The vehicle is being refuelled, hence the open fuel filler cap.|
|The Fitted For Radio version showing the modified rear body. Note how the rear bumperettes double as jerrycan racks.|
|A late model Series 2A Station Wagon, with rounded mudgauard cutouts and headlights positioned in the mudguards rather than the radiator grille. Note the Army Registration is only eight numbers after the vehicle in the previous two photos.|
|An official photo of a Landrover Carryall. The vehicle is finished in deep Bronze Green, and the bump rails around the body are of interest. (Department of Defence Photo)|
|A Landrover Carryall modified into a Topographical Survey vehicle. Note the body rails as well as the rails attached to the brushguard and roof. Of interest is the standard tyres of the vehicle rather than the normal 7.50 x16 bartread tyres. (Photo courtesy Norm Weeding.)|
|The Ceremonial conversion mounting the body which allows an Inspecting Officer to stand during parades. The rear steps are permanently fitted when in this mode. Note the very high gloss paint finish.|
|A poor quality photo showing the Ceremonial Landrover in Funeral mode, and towing a modifed 25 pounder Gun Carriage. The wreath box is mounted in the rear of the Landrover.|
|The unknown Series 2A Landrover. The rudimentary nature of the rear body is suggestive of an air transportable version, but this cannot be confirmed at this time.|
Article Text and Photographs Copyright ©
2002 by Paul D.
Page Created 06 October, 2002
Last Updated 06 October, 2002
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