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Australian 4x4 Land Rover as used by the Special Air Service
circa 1979

The Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) based in Western Australia has been around for some years. The soldiers of this Regiment are trained to react to a large range of operational requirements , one of which is long range vehicle reconnaissance patrols. For this task they used a specially modified long wheel base Series 2A Land Rover 109. All vehicles were fitted with a 6000lb single line pull winch for self extraction from bogging situations. The winch was mounted slightly above the bumper bar and in front of the radiator grill. Like many elite units the SASR has been given some leeway to fit out its Land Rovers to suit the SASR role. Not all SASR Land Rovers are configured in exactly the same way. Since information on SASR equipment is scarce, the total picture for SASR Land Rovers may never be known.

There is a long list of major and minor differences between the "British" Pink Panther and the Australian version as seen in 1979. Other references circa 1980 show one additional item, that being a roll bar just behind the driver. This roll bar is braced on each side. Each brace was parallel with the sides of the vehicle. In these photos it appears that the rear machine gun position is missing or at least the Public Relations photo has been taken from such an angle as to obscure the rear machine gun.

 AUSTRALIAN-ISED VERSION circa 1979.

There are several important differences which make this vehicle particularly Australian. The square cut wheel arches are the same as for many "militarised" Land Rovers in use by the Australian Army. The brush guard is standard Australian pattern and fabricated from flat section steel and bolted to the top of the bumper bar. This brush guard and bumper are set forward to allow the mounting of two jerry can holders between the bumper and the front of the vehicle. Two spare wheels are mounted on the brush guard. The wheels are mounted onto bracket which in turn is mounted onto a plate which itself is welded onto the brush guard.

 The Australian SASR Land Rover has five fuel tanks. The two standard fuel tanks are under each front seat. When configured for the SASR two additional fuel tanks were added and were mounted across the chassis directly behind the driver in the rear compartment. The fifth fuel tank was located between the body well in the rear of the vehicle. Photos show that the SASR Land Rovers have a fuel filler cap on each side of the body, and one on top of each of the additional fuel tanks behind the driver. The fifth fuel cap is located next to the fuel tank behind the driver.

 The longer (20 versus 14 hole) PSP matting carried along each side are mounted differently (see drawing). There is also a permanent stowage shelf at the rear. It is approximately the width of the rear tail gate for additional storage and appears to be supported by two inverted "U" section channel.

 It is interesting to note that the references that I have seen shows that the bonnet mounted spare wheel does NOT have a recess on the bonnet. Photos show the flat bonnet with only the mounting plate and no depression for the wheel.

Jerry cans for fuel are carried on each side behind the brush guard and jerry cans for water are carried next to the driver and passenger respectively.

Brackets for two radios are mounted on the rear compartment on the fuel tanks. Mounting brackets behind the passenger are for a standard back pack radio and the larger type of vehicle radio can be mounted behind the driver. It is assumed that there is ammunition storage between the front seats similar to the Tamiya kit.

 Tools are bracketed down on the front wheel wings. Spade on the left (passenger) and pick and axe(?) in front of the driver.

 There are two metal boxes with lids mounted along each side behind the fuel tanks. These have been shown to contain food and are just a touch higher than the edge of the vehicle. The driver has a rectangular rear view mirror.

 The vehicle described here is a mid production vehicle. the later versions had the addition of the roll bar.

 ARMAMENT

The LWB Land Rover is generally armed with two machine guns. The passenger has one and there is another in the rear compartment. Photographic evidence shows that the machine guns can be two .30 calibre M1919A4 machine guns or the front one can be replaced by an M60 GPMG.

It is the method of mounting the rear .30 calibre machine gun that makes this vehicle very interesting. The rear pintle has a combined gunner's seat, ammunition box and machine gun mounted on one central mount. This sees the rear gunner sitting high at the rear of the vehicle and enables him to have a 360 degree uninterrupted field of fire. See sketch and plans for details.

 The ammunition box for the rear gunner is large enough to hold up to 2-3000 rounds. It has a framework to reinforce the box at its forward side where it joins the machine gun pintle. The pintle mount would be mounted on a plate attached to the floor and does have reinforcing ribs for stability and strength (as it supports the weight of the gunner, ammo and gun).

 Advice from SASR soldiers indicated that in 1979 other weapons carried included an 84mm Carl Gustav anti tank weapon as well as a variety of personal weapons. The vehicle has two SLR holsters, one on each side of the vehicle. Later with Defence acquisitions the Carl Gustav (also known affectionately as Charlie Guts-ache) was replaced by the Milan ATGW and Redeye Anti Aircraft missile system were also carried. Crew weapons could include F1 or Sterling sub machine gun with silencer, M16, M203 - basically any weapons available to the Australian Army.

COLOUR AND CAMOUFLAGE
The vehicles are generally standard Australian Army Olive Drab. In reality water based temporary camouflage paints could be used for specific tasks or patrols/exercise. Vehicle markings include an AMF number plate with white numbers on black background. Units sign consists of a kangaroo on crossed swords below the letter "Z" in yellow on a green background (passengers side). The other side contains a number 175 on a green (or red) square.

THE MODEL

The easiest way to make an Australian 4x4 SASR patrol vehicle is to base it on the 1/35 scale Tamiya Pink Panther. However, you will have to make sure to change the wheels. I have never seen an Australian SASR Land Rover with balloon sand tyres. The recommended wheel/tyres are standard military types and are recommended to come from the Tamiya Ambulance kit.

 You will need to alter the rear leaf springs (as per plans) to show that they are under strain, that is, loaded with much gear. It is debateable whether the raised flooring in the back of the Tamiya kit is used in the Australian version, I would suggest not. If you fill the floor with packs, cam nets weapons etc you will not be able to see it and therefore it will not be a problem. A large roll of canvas/cam net is often rolled up and stored across the vehicle where the wind shield used to be.

 The rest is straight from the plans: brush guard, spare wheels (up to three), front jerry cans, change fuel tanks positioning, add food boxes, rear machine gun mount, longer PSP matting, rear storage shelf, radios.

 Today (1993) the 4x4 vehicle is a historical vehicle as it is no longer in service with the SASR. In 1989-90 the 109 Land Rover was replaced by the new purpose designed and Australian built Jaguar-Rover Australia 6x6 110 Land Rover with rear mounted trail bike.

 

As an aside, the photos used as reference showed a line of SASR vehicles pulled over at an outback service station and amongst these vehicles was a short wheel base Land Rover with 106mm recoilless rifle. It also had the same forward stowage with jerry cans, brush guard and two spare wheels mounted vertically. The 106mm Land Rover may have been part of the SASR exercise in 1979. The same 106mm Land Rover seen in 1995 has the same spare wheel and jerry can stowage.

CREW
The references that I have been able to obtain show the crew in camouflaged clothing. The crew wear goggles to stop bugs and dust obscuring their vision. Personal weapons in these references include 7.62mm FN SLRs and M16 or M203s. The crew of three are also wearing baseball type caps rather than berets or helmets.

Scale drawing is available from the plans section


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