This information is taken almost soley from the pages of Forty Years of Army Design by J.C.Wisdom, head of Engineering Development Establishment, 1979. This book is Copyright Commonwealth of Australia
The contents of these pages are all direct excerpts from that book, except the timeline which is a collation of that information.
The photographs included to illustrate the information are copyright to their respective sources.
This bok provides a fascinating insight into the testing and development of a number of vehicles and systems that were econsidered for use, and eventually used by the Australian Army
As REMLR deals with post WW2, specifically from around 1950 onwards, I will focus on the history of the establishment post WW2. The history is somewhat fractured and convoluted as far as the organisation, although it’s activities are easier to track.
1951 – Design Establishment formed as a part of Department of Defence Production
1955/56 – Saracen, Ferret, 10 ton bridging craneon trial.
1959/60 – Army Design Establishment (ADE) re-established as an Army HQ unit
1960 – Prototype ambulances and 2 ½ ton GS truck on trial
1960/61 – Prototype ambulances, FV119, Saladin and Bombadier Muskeg on trial
1962 – 5TTU Established
1962/63 – FV432, M113 M543 and Automotive Repair Land Rover (Wrecker?) on trial
1963 – 5TTU disbanded upon return from trials.
1964 – 6TTU Established
1964/65 – M114A1, M113, Ferret Mk.2 Inter F1 and F2 and other wheeled vehicles on trial
1965 – 6TTU Disbanded
1966 – 7TTU Established
1966/67 – Lark 5, M72 AT, M79 Grenade Launcher and Carl Gustav AT. Also UK team of guns and vehicles on trial
1967 – Artillery Lethality Testing
1967 – Army Tropical Trials Unit Formed
1967/68 – Sheridan Tank trials
1969 – Tropical Trials Establishment administratively separated from ADE.
1971/72 – XF4 on trial
1974 – Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) created
1975 - Engineering Design Establishment (EDE) as a part of DSTO (Was ADE)
1976/77 – Guns and gun tractors on trial involving 107 FD BTY
1977- Joint Tropical Trials and Research Establishment established (JTTRE), merging JTRU and Tropical Trials Establishment
1989 - Control of Cowley Beach was returned to the Army and Innisfail became MRL, Qld.
One-Ton GS 4x4 Truck
The Chrysler Company built two prototypes in 1954/55 in response to an Army Specification. They were based on the US “Power Wagon”, similar to the US ¾ ton GS 4x4 vehicle. On test they showed a marked lack of robustness and, since the Chrysler Company was not inclined to enter a modification program, the project was abandoned.
Three-Ton GS 4x4 Truck (The No.1 Mk.1)
This vehicle project was started in 1954 with a concept design prepared by the Design Establishment. It led to the International Harvester Company obtaining a development contract in early 1955 for their 4x2 vehicle,. Based generally on the chassis of their AS160 commercial model, and allowing for a ‘Front Wheel Drive Kit’, designed by the Design Establishment and built by Coote & Jorgenson, Sydney (Forerunners of Borg-Warner). During the course of the project the nomenclature of the project was changed from Three-Ton (imp) to 2 ½ Ton (Short (US)) to accord with US capacities for logistic purposes. Three pilot models in the 4x4 configuration were assembled at the Establishment in 1956 from the three 4x2 pilot models supplied by the company and entered user trials with Army units in 1957, after exhaustive, successful design trials Trials and Proving Wing. After acceptance by Army, and order for 100 vehicles was placed in 1958 with International Harvester and 44 of the first vehicles were dispatched straight to Exercise ‘Grand Slam’ in the Mackay area. It is of interest that the pilot models were developed to ‘Joint Service Specification No.1’, the intention being to develop a tri service cargo vehicle. Navy and Air Force agreed to the specification, but never ordered quantities, although the Air Force obtained some vehicles for evaluation. As a side issue, since there were no all-wheel drive vehicles of this size in the country at the time, the postmaster-General’s Department requested and obtained twenty vehicles for an urgent project in Western Australia. In 1959, one vehicle was loaned to the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition, Department of Foreign Affairs and was sent to Mawson Base for one year, At the last moment before dispatch in ‘Thala Dan’, it was realised that the Army number plates had to be replaced with Commonwealth ‘C’ plates, in order to not infringe on the International Agreement on the “Zone of Peace’, by introducing military equipment.
The design of the vehicle underwent extensive modifications to incorporate commercial changes and improvements including a greater Australian content and led to large production orders in the early sixties.
2 ½ cu yds GS 4x4 Dump Truck
As part of the design concept of the 2 ½ ton GS 4x4 Cargo, a dump version was developed at the Design Establishment in about 1959. Basic chassis components were used and a light alloy aluminium body was developed in conjunction with ALCOA, a single front telescopic hoist and hydraulic accessories with other subcontractors. Pilot models were tested, but the Army users objected to the small size. The development was later transferred to 5 cu yds 6x6 GS Dump Truck.
Five Ton 6x6 GS Cargo and 5 cu yds 6x6 GS Dump Truck
Concept design started in the late 50’s on the above vehicles, using many features and components of the 2 ½ ton vehicle. Naturally the rear axle assembly was replaced by a bogie axle assembly on the 5 ton version and chassis frame reinforcement was necessary. The successful prototype design led to large production orders in the 60’s. All together approximately 5,000 units of 2 ½, 5 ton and 5 cu trucks were built.
Quarter Ton GS 4x4 Land Rover
This vehicle, based on the British Land Rover, was developed by Pressed Metal Corp., Sydney, the Land Rover manufacturing and assembly agent in Australia, to a Design Establishment specification, tested at Trials and Proving Wing and introduced into service in the late 50’s, after competitive tests against Willys Jeeps and others.
Truck Three Quarter Ton GS 4x4 Cargo
A number of vehicle makes of British, German and US origin, with varying projected Australian content were assessed against an Establishment specification and tested at Trials and Proving Wing in the late 50’s. The makes included: Land Rover, Willys Jeep (Two versions), Unimog (Mercedes Benz) and a 1 ton version of the Design Establishment 2 ½ ton truck. The long wheelbase Landrover was selected, mainly because of its commonality with the ¼ Ton Land Rover
¾ Ton GS Landrover Derivations
The following derivatives were developed by DE and Pressed Metals Corp.
These developments tool place over the early sixties, and the Ambulance presented the biggest single design effort, it being the first design of a four-berth ambulance body built on the Land Rover, as distinct from the British Army two-berth version.
Field Investigations of Vehicle and General Engineering Equipment
One of the more unusual projects was the development of “Truck, ¼ ton Special Survey” at the request of the long range weapons establishment. The vehicle was to be capable of crossing dry salt lakes in the Woomera area and the solution was found by fitting low inflation tyres to a skeleton jeep chassis. Its success led tp a request for a reconnaissance vehicle which could negotiate sand-hills, mulga forests and stony deserts typical of the virgin country of South Australia. The prototype vehicle met all requirements but occasional failures of steering and transmission occurred under the extremely arduous conditions and development was not perused.
Not all vehicle trials were carried out within the confines of the Monegeetta area. In 1954 an around-Australia trial, occupying four months, involved comparative trials of two Land Rovers, one fitted with a General-Motors-Holden engine and the other with a four cylinder Rolls-Royce engine, and a ford five ton cargo truck fitted with a four wheel drive conversion kit. The route followed was from Melbourne via Cairns, across to Normanton, Alice Springs, Darwin, South to Port Augusta and Adelaide, Bendigo return to Melbourne.
The closer association of Australia with the defence technology of the UK Ministry of Supply led to recognition of its special position in being able to carry out trials of equipment under the tropical conditions, which existed in territory within its control.
The first example was the tropical trialling of the Centurion tank which was carried out primarily by a British team but with technical support provided by Australia, including the Design Establishment. The chosen site was at Los Negros Island of the Admiralty Island Group in the Bismarck Archipelago. Other alternatives of Lae in New Guinea and Inisfail North Queensland were surveyed. With support from Navy and RAAF and civil authorities the trials took place within January and July 1952.
Another round of trials was carried out for the Ministry of Supply during the hot-wet conditions of the six month tropical summer period at Innisfail North Queensland in 1955-6. This area had been reconnoitred at an earlier stage in 1954 by the Design Establishment. Two cargo vehicles, the ‘Saracen’ armoured personnel carrier, the ‘Ferret’ scout car, a ten ton bridging crane and a free-piston air compressor were the subjects. As no organisation existed for conduct of the trial a trials unit of some 26 members was created on an ad hoc basis, consisting partly of military and partly civilian personnel drawn mainly from the Design Establishment.
In 1960 the requirement arose for trialling of two prototype Land Rover ambulances and an early model of the 2 ½ ton GS International truck co-developed within ADE. A small team under the command of F.V. Baines took the vehicles overland to Innisfail where they lived in hostels, having been placed, for accommodation purposes, on a travelling allowance. During the course of this hot/wet trial, taking advantage of the natural summer climate of the area, the opportunity was taken to make a reconnaissance of the area for a later and more comprehensive trial planned for the 1960/61 season. The party moved inland through Mount Isa to Tennant Creek, conducting hot/dry trials en route and thence returned to Melbourne by road.
Copyright John Bamford
In jungle at Tully, North Queensland
Copyright John Bamford
And you said it would get through here!
Copyright John Bamford
Black soil road west of Hughenden, Queensland
Copyright John Bamford
Julia Creek, Queensland (Notice the prototype ACCO)
Copyright John Bamford
Civic Square, Mary Kathleen, Queensland
Copyright John Bamford
South of Alice Springs, Northern Territory
The 1960/61 trial round embraced tropical trials for the UK of the Saladin Armoured Car and the FV119 Heavy Recovery Tractor; the Australian Army also took the opportunity to evaluate the Canadian full-track vehicle, the Bombadier Muskeg, and to extend trials of the prototype ambulances. The team, formed in ADE, was again under the command of Major Baines, who by this time had become an identity in the Innisfail area. This Army support initially comprised of 6 officers and 17 other ranks, supplemented by civilian trials specialists and other military personnel for limited periods. Most of the team were accommodated in hotels located in the Innisfail and Tully areas. The Commonwealth Citizen Military Force drill hall in Innisfail was used as the Headquarters for the operation, at Tully, an old Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade building. Circuits used in the trials were those used in the earlier 1955/56 and 1960 trials. On completion of this programme, the team followed the route to Tennant Creek and the inland, used previously, and then south, through Alice Springs, conducting further hot/dry trials on the route back to Melbourne.
Copyright John Bamford
All in a day's work - at a secret location in the Far North
Copyright John Bamford
Between Trephina Gorge and Alice Springs, Northern Territory
At Army Design Establishment (ADE), Melbourne - Overturn angle was about 40 degrees.
A Mk.1 International Semi Trailer, 2 Land Rovers and a Leyland FV1119 Martin.
The trials of the 1962/63 season were enlarged in scope and the unit created for the event was fully self-contained and compromised 54 personnel both military and civil. The unit became known as Number 5 Tropical Trials Unit (5TTU), making the point that the formation of such units from ADE was intended to continue from time to time and acknowledging that four similar units had already been formed and disbanded. The 5TTU was commanded by a Major E.A. McClosky and was supported at Innisfail by a squadron of the 2/14 Queensland Mounted Infantry (QMI). The reason for this was that the trial involved the prototype Armoured Personnel Carriers FV432 of British origin and Personnel Carriers Full Tracked M113 of United States origin. Other equipments were the Medium Recovery Truck M543 and automotive repair Land Rover. The wheeled vehicles proceeded overland to Innisfail while the tracked vehicles were sent by train, the whole unit grouping and training in November and December 1962. All vehicles and personnel moved to Mount Isa for hot/dry and physiological trials in January 1963 and returned to Innisfail for the conduct of hot/wet trials between February and April.
Accommodation for a considerable force was naturally a problem in Innisfail and the problem was met with the help of Department of Harbours and Marine by quartering the QMI at the adjacent Mourilyan Harbour Barracks, which had been built some years previously for the use of Waterside workers but had never been occupied. The 5 TTU lived at the Exchange Hotel in Innisfail. Any idea that the arrangement might be a base, on which to develop future organisation, was nullified because the Barracks were demolished sometime after the trial to make way for the erection of a sugar terminal.
At Mount Isa, the personnel were rationed and quartered in a hutted camp known as Star Gulley Barracks, which had been built by Utah Australia Limited for the construction of Lake Moondara at Mount Isa and which were owned by Mount Isa Mines Ltd.
At the conclusion of the trial, 5TTU returned to Trials and Proving Wing of ADE where it was disbanded after the return of stores and vehicles.
For the 1964/65 trial season, 6TTU was formed as a sub-unit of ADE. The vehicle systems undergoing evaluation were the M114A1 Reconnaissance Vehicle and Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle M113 with a Ferret Scout Car Mk 2 as a comparator, the Truck Cargo 5 Ton and Truck Dump 5 Cubic Yard and other wheeled vehicles. The trial involved the movement from Melbourne to Innisfail and return. At Innisfail trials involved not only negotiation of rain forest courses but also a swamp, sand and beach areas. Photos and information about 6 TTU can be found on this page.
Copyright Glen Hutley
Copyright Glen Hutley
Copyright Glen Hutley
Copyright Glen Hutley
Stoping overnight in Longreach
Copyright Glen Hutley
The Land Rover Wrecker geting a workout.
Copyright Glen Hutley
The wrecker being used to help recover a damaged A1, The damage appears to mirror the colour photo of A1 higher up the page.
Copyright Glen Hutley
The wrecker lifting one of the artilelry pieces to be hitched up to a 6x6 inter at the Longreach showgrounds. November 1964
A turning point in the organisation of tropical trials occurred in 1965 with the creation of a Trials Group in ADE with the continuing function, not only to plan and execute tropical trials, but also to develop plans for permanent facilities at Innisfail. By this time arrangements for purchase by Army of permanent rain forest areas were well advanced and it had been agreed that a permanent unit should be established at Innisfail.
After various reconnaissances of the area in the period of 1962-64 a proposal was developed for the acquisition of a single tract of land of about one or two hundred square miles and stretching roughly from Innisfail to Tully and inland to the west. With some modification, this area was generally approved by the Federal and Queensland Governments, after consideration was given by the latter to questions of de-forestation and to commercial ventures, such as tea growing, east of Tully. Army interest in the land acquisition involved more than just a concern about evaluation of equipment in the tropical environment. The interests of the Directorate of Army Inspection were also to be considered. Also the parallel concern of the British Government, in setting up, with Australia, A Joint Tropical Research Unit in the Innisfail area, was a significant factor, as valuable technical supporting facilities might become available.
When 7TTU was formed for the 1966-67 trials round, it was planned that elements of this team would remain behind at the conclusion of the trials to form the nucleus of a permanent establishment. It would occupy facilities and headquarters, which were to be provided at Cowley Beach near Innisfail. Although it was intended to set up a hutted temporary camp, it had to be accepted that conditions there would have to be fairly primitive, with only a tented camp, and that an office would have to be maintained in Innisfail itself.
No 7TTU under command of Lieutenant Colonel J. Humphreys was tasked with carrying out for the Australian Army hot/wet trials of the Lark 5 Amphibious Vehicle, the M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon, the M79 40mm Grenade launcher and the Carl Gustav 84mm Infantry Anti-Tank Gun. The unit was also required to support administratively a United Kingdom team, who were to carry out hot/wet and hot/dry trials of guns and vehicles. The elements of 7TTU, which remained at Cowley Beach in temporary accommodation, fared poorly over a protracted period, as the growth of the headquarters was unfortunately only a piecemeal operation. Army intended to make a Cabinet submission detailing all the requirements for a properly developed Tropical Trials Unit but this submission was never presented. Tents were eventually replaced by huts, but located in the same positions and with unchanged functions and there was no development of a long term plan for the organisation. The formation of Army Tropical Trials Unit was formally approved in August 1967 with a strength of 64.
The next trial was to assess the lethality of artillery and mortar projectiles in a jungle environment and, as rainfall and humidity were not an essential ingredient, the trial was conducted mid-year in 1967 outside the normal wet season.
Preparation for the 1967/68 series of trials also commenced at ADE at this time. This series was concerned with trials of two Sheridan Armoured Fighting Vehicles and their Shillelagh guided weapon systems on ABCA loan from the American Army. The vehicles were prepared and instrumented at ADE, crew training took place at Puckapunyal and the vehicles moved on a Department of Supply convoy to the Tropical Trials Unit at Cowley Beach at Christmas. Automotive trials and battlefield days were conducted at Tully and weapons firing trials were made in the Cowley Beach area. The Sheridan trial was by far the most complex yet attempted in the tropics and, in addition to the strength of the Tropical Trials Unit and increment was approved raising the level of support for the trials to over 200 military and civilian personnel.
In the period following the Sheridan trial when technical staff were busy analysing and reporting (the report evidently went to nine volumes), the administration aspects of developing the Tropical Trials Unit into the Army Tropical Trials Establishment was proceeded at ADE with considerations of technical facilities and staffing levels and with actual recruitment. In 1969, TTE was separated administratively from ADE and, henceforth, reported directly to Army Director of Equipment; ADE, however, continued with its function to plan and supervise the periodic trials program affecting Australian equipments. Four trials seasons were arranged encompassing a wide range of items including vehicles, ammunition and electronic equipment. In order to ensure a logical process of planning, a high level Army Committee known as the Tropical Trials Steering Committee was constituted to establish a priority list of subject equipments. Items of particular concern to ADE engineers were design trials of the PRC-F1 manpack radio system, the Australian development of the One Ton General Service Truck (XF4) and the large scale evaluation trials of the American M60 and German Leopard tanks and their associated weapon systems. The nature of the technical interest will be described below.
81 MM Mortar F2
105 MM Pack Howitzer L5 (new ammunition for increase in range)
105 MM Light Gun Evaluation (M102, XM164 XL119 Howitzer and existing 105 MM M101A1)
Sights for 40 MM Gun
Rifle for Papua-New Guinea Forces (L1A1 modification)
Conversion of 30 Calibre Browning Machine Gun to 7.62MM
105 M Field Gun Ammunition
81 MM Mortar Ammunition
84 MM Recoilless Anti-Tank Gun Ammunition (Carl Gustav)
Firing Device-Demolition F1A1
Guided Missiles – Anti-Tank Guided Weapons - ENTAC
In 1960 the Australian army issued a requirement for a weapon, which could be used by either infantry or by armoured formations. Paper assessments of competing weapon systems, the French ENTAC and SS11, and british Vigiland, the Swiss Mosquito and the German Cobra were made by ADE. Eventually, ENTAC was chosen as an infantry weapon and the heavier SS11 as a vehicle mounted weapon for engineering evaluation and user trials and the Establishment, as a Design Authority, was charged with carrying out the engineering trials.
Both Entac and SS11 Missile systems were optically tracked and guided along the line of sight to the target by an operator, controlling with a joystick unit, which caused electrical control signals to be relayed by twin-wire cables freely dispensing from the round. The missiles were rocket propelled and fitted with shaped-charge warheads; Entac operated at ranges from the target between 400 meters and 1800 meters and SS11 up to 3000 meters.
The tests and trials, which indicated certain deficiencies under simulated tropical conditions – subsequently corrected by manufacturers contributed to the eventual purchase by the Army in 1964. It was decided that separate infantry and vehicle mounted weapons were unnecessary and installations in Landrover vehicles and Ferret scout cars were also evolved as a separate design exercise. A limited number of prototype installations were used for training, but vehicle mounted anti-tank weapons did not enter service.
Guided Missiles – Surface to Air Guided Weapons - Rapier
The rapid advance in aircraft speeds and lethality of airborne weapons used in ground attack raised the need for a more effective weapon than the 40 mm Bofors gun for the protection of troops.
In the mid-1960’s the British and Australian Armies agreed to collaborate in the development of the ET316 (Rapier) low level surface-to-air guided weapon system under the terms of the Basic Standardisation Agreement 1964. The Australian Army’s contribution to the joint project included the provision of military staff officers to the UK project management team, provision of technical and user personnel to the Joint Services Trials Unit during evaluation trials, administrative support and tropic testing facilities to enable field storage tests to be carried out by Tropical Trials Unit, Innisfail.
Under an AHQ Research Request initiated in 1964, Weapons Research Establishment, in conjunction with British Aircraft Corporation and Royal Radar Establishment, developed a mathematical model of the Rapier system to study its sensitivity to changes in various air attack and weapon parameters. WER were also heavily involved in providing the Woomera range and target facilities in support of the Joint Services Trials Unit evaluation during 1968.
ADE made a technical evaluation of Rapier against the Australian Military Characteristics (Which were derived from the UK requirements) and assessed the suitability of the system for introduction into service in the Australian Army. In addition ADE provided technical support to the UK in the development and trials in Australia and carried out local development required to facilitate the introduction of the system into service.
ADE supplied technical support to Army for Australian aspects of the Rapier missile hot/wet exposure trials conducted at Innisfail in 1968 and at Singapore in 1976 and, in collaboration with Systems Assessment Division of WRE, produced interim technical evaluation reports. A mobility study concerning the use of Australian vehicles was separately conducted by ADE.
In 1970, and engineer was adopted as an assistant to the Joint Services Trials Unit scientist (from either RRE or WRE) for various types of evaluation trials both in Australia and in the UK including the 1972 Darwin demonstration of the system against towed targets.
Under Army auspices in 1971 two ADE engineers visited the manufacturers of the Rapier (British Aircraft Corporation) and appropriate sub-contractors as well as UK Ministry of Defence establishments to study UK pattern control procedures in preparation for ADE to perform the role of Australian Design Authority for Rapier.
The valuable and effective collaboration in vehicle development in Australia, built up in the late fifties between ADE and industry, continued throughout the next decade and was an expression of the industrial abilities of the era. The 2 ½ ton, 4x4 service vehicle, entered production by International Harvester Company in 1962 to be followed by its larger variant the 5 ton, 6x6. Altogether some 5000 vehicles, including the dump truck variants previously described, were produced.
Twin Boom Recovery Vehicle
Army issued a Military Characteristic in 1959 for a 2 1.2 ton General Service Recovery Vehicle with a hydraulic boom similar to that employed on the M543 wrecker. At that time the 5 Ton General Service vehicle had not been considered but, with that development having proceeded, the specification was changed. By 1966 the fitting of Holmes twin boom mechanical recovery unit on a 5 Ton chassis was proposed by RAEME and ADE was asked to proceed with this development. This type of rig had been used on 4 Ton wreckers since 1942.
Two pilot models were contracted with J.H. Oldings of Sydney and ADE played a large part in the actual design of the equipment, which was fitted to 2 dump truck chassis. After evaluation and acceptance, which embraced the submission of pre-production models, a production order for 91 vehicles was placed and completed in 1974.
One Ton General Service Vehicle
The technical and industrial climate was favourable to an Australian development exercise when Army came to the conclusion that its in-service ¾ ton capacity LandRover, while adequate for many purposes, fell short of total requirements for strategic and tactical mobility in terms of operability in rough conditions and towing capacity. As a preliminary Design Study showed that no one ton vehicle in service or contemplated overseas could be made air portable with the aircraft available to the Army, the argument for a local development was very strong.
In 1964 the Army tasked ADE to carry out a detailed design study, prepare concept drawings, a design specification, a full scale mock-up and an experimental model able to float and be carried in a Caribou transport aircraft. The establishment kept in close touch with the automobile industry through the Mechanical Engineering Industry Advisory Committee and by 1967 it was concluded that it was not feasible to combine a floating capability with the ease of cargo handling desired by the Army. Also at this time it was recognised that the air portability in Caribou would not be achieved if certain fitments such as the S250 Signal Shelter was to be incorporated. The Military Board deleted air portability in Caribou from the Military Characteristic although multiple carriage in Hercules aircraft was still required. In 1968 approval was given to build an experimental model and Design and Development Specification DD(X)188 was issued and Circulated to industry.
The design concept called for four-wheel drive with compact cab-over engine configuration and provision for rapid conversion of tray to flatbed operation. Differential locks were required on both front and rear axles and power take-offs for driving ancillary equipments and a powered trailer.
With eventual production in Australian industry in view, the design employed commercial components wherever possible and utilised proven automotive techniques; an exception was the specification of an ADE designed low speed transfer case, which was not available commercially. Tenders for the supply of pilot models were called and Chrysler, Ford, General Motors-Holden, International Harvester, Rover and Volvo responded. In the meantime the ADE experimental vehicle based on the ¾ ton Land Rover chassis was displayed to Army and the Department of Supply in 1969.
Presumably the vehicle appealed to a majority of Army viewers, as a letter of intent was given to Ford and International Harvesters to produce four pilot models for competitive evaluation. The development was placed under the scrutiny of a Project Management Committee comprising members of Army, Supply and the contractors. The pilot models were delivered to Army in 1971 and trials were satisfactorily completed by later 1972.. The requirement for a vehicle possessing superior mobility to the 3.4 ton Land Rover was convincingly demonstrated.
At a Design Agreement Conference, which followed, the vehicle was accepted, but a number of reservations were expressed by the Army User Directorates. It was decided, therefore, to lend the pilot vehicles to selected users for a brief assessment. A draft specification for prototype vehicles was submitted to Army in 1973 following broadly the basic design of the Ford pilot vehicles, but with several components redesigned or replaced with International parts.
Doubts about the future of the one ton truck were raised at a meeting of the Army Material Committee held in May 1973 and this situation underlined continuing doubts expressed in the Army Office in Canberra. It seems that, at no stage, did the project enjoy whole-hearted support throughout the Army. Finally, in September 1973, the project was cancelled, the official reason given being the continuous escalation of costs.
Development of a powered trailer for the one ton vehicle proceeded in parallel with the vehicle project. This feature extended the capacity and capability of a vehicle by converting it to six-wheeled drive configuration. The axle of the powered trailer was identical with that of the truck and special arrangements were made to ensure that the trailer did not drive the vehicle in certain conditions of traction. A contract was awarded to Ford for manufacture of three powered, and one unpowered, versions but the requirement lapsed with cancellation of the vehicle successfully tested and the unpowered version subsequently went into limited production.
As a comparison, development of the 101FC started in 1967, with a design team lead by Norman Busby (14 October 1931 – 30 June 2005). Production took place between 1972 and 1978.
Armoured Fighting Vehicles
The requirement for the Army to operate in a tropical environment led to the need for the Armoured Corps to be equipped with light armoured fighting vehicles to provide ground forces with the necessary mobility and fire power. In 1962, as already noted, the US M113A1 and British FV432 tracked vehicles were evaluated by 5TTU in a tropical trial and subsequently the former vehicle was chosen.
With the introduction of cavalry regiments into the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, a requirement arose for an air portable armoured fighting vehicle; this need was reinforced by Australia’s involvement in the war in Vietnam. There was, at that time and attempt by the ABCA countries to agree on the development of a light armoured fighting vehicle which, while permitting national variants, maintained substantial commonality in important major assemblies. Such a vehicle promised to meet the Australian requirement but, as so often happened in such endeavours, conflicting national, political, military and commercial interests prevented this development from processing. The Australian Army then became interested in the US General Sheridan M551 Armoured Reconnaissance Airborne Assault Vehicle as a possible choice for the role and an ABCA loan of two vehicles allowed a tropical trial to be planned for evaluation purposes.
Interim M113 - Saladin Gun Conversion
In the meantime, in order to meet immediate requirements, since Sheridan would not be available to Australia for some time, the feasibility of mounting a 76 mm gun and turret from the Saladin six-wheel armoured vehicle on to the hull of the M113A1 was investigated. In carry, out the design study, ADE worked in close consultation with the US manufacturer of the M113, the Food Machinery Corporation, and arranged for the Ordnance Factory Maribyrnong to make up conversion items to ADE designs. The experimental conversion model became, in fact, in rapid succession, a pilot model and, with some modifications, a prototype, which was submitted to user trials in late 1967.
The user trials proceeded satisfactorily in most respects with the exception of the swimming aspect. In trials in the Goulburn river, the vehicle, not a versatile operator in this respect, may have hit a submerged snag or may have manoeuvred incorrectly after some hours of swimming. It sank very suddenly in deep water, fortunately without any harm to the crew but not without some alarm to the observers. This even did not prejudice final acceptance of the conversion by the Army, although this was delayed somewhat because the vehicle was damaged during salvage and further modifications were required.
An order for fifteen vehicles was placed and Ordnance Factory produced the conversion kits, the fire support vehicles being assembled 4 Base Workshops at Bandiana. They were shipped to Vietnam in 1971.
The Establishment was called in to assist with an urgent operational problem in Vietnam affecting the M113A1 in 1969. The vehicle proved vulnerable to mines which, exploding under the tracks and belly of the vehicle were causing casualties among drivers and crew. The consequent effect on morale was serious enough to cause the Commander Vietnam to call for a quick response. An ADE officer, sent to the scene, was able, from analysis of injury data, to focus attention on certain weaknesses in the vehicle des: For example, the predominance of left ankle injuries among drivers pointed to shock waves being transmitted to foot rests, even though the under-be] was not punctured. A weakness in the longitudinal weld was also discovered which resulted in injuries to the driver. A modified shock absorbing foot rest was developed at ADE together with a protective aluminium plate system and the first components of the up-armouring kit were despatched to Vietnam before the end of 1969.
Following an incident in August 1970 when a fully modified vehicle detonated a mine of estimated thirty pounds weight with only one serious casualty among twelve personnel, the Commander Australian Forces Vietnam expressed his appreciation to those involved in the design and manufacture of the kit.
General Sheridan Tank Evaluation
The evaluation of the weapon system of the Sheridan tank has already been mentioned. Automotive trials were carried out in the Innisfail/Tully area of North Queensland during the wet season 1967/68 using an M113A1 Armoured personnel carrier as a comparator. Up to four thousand miles of running on first and second class roads, on second class roads through jungle, together with an endurance run of some three hundred miles, comprised the trials programme, which also included seven - twenty hours battle day simulations. Under these demanding conditions it was found that, compared with the M113, the Sheridan's lower power to weight ratio gave slightly inferior performance on some occasions, and, under poor traction conditions, the Sheridan performance on steep grades and side slopes was also inferior. Under jungle conditions the disposition of the engine cooling radiator was such that debris thrown up by the tracks rapidly caused blockage followed by engine overheating; hull fittings were also found vulnerable to contact with vegetation. Maximum road speed was less and minimum turning circle greater with Sheridan, which nevertheless proved superior to M113 in negotiation of vertical drops and in operation over first and second class roads and in sand and while swimming.
This automotive performance of Sheridan was not, in the final analysis, the deciding factor in the Army decision not to proceed with its acquisition. The deficiencies in performance of the fairly massive but conventional 155 mm gun and ammunition system was the deciding factor.
Fire Support Vehicle
As the need still existed to expand the fire support vehicle fleet and the number of Saladin gun turrets available as maintenance spares was strictly limited, an Army Materiel Characteristic (AMC 400) was issued in 1972 for a fire support vehicle and another developmental project was raised. This was directed towards evolution of a new and original vehicle representing Army's best concept of a fire support vehicle. For practical reasons, however, there were certain constraints placed on the project such as the requirement to maintain commonality with M113A1 in power pack and running gear and the use of the new light-weight 76 mm gun for the UK Scorpion.
The Establishment prepared a Development Specification defining the vehicle but, after due consideration, the Army decided that the cost and time involved in the ab initio development of a vehicle was too great and issued a new Military Characteristic AMC 403 (later designated an Army Staff Requirement) to cover an Interim Fire Support Vehicle. This would consist essentially of the turret of the Scorpion on the hull of the M113A1. The definitive fire support vehicle would be planned for introduction when the M113A1 was replaced in the mid 1980's.
A Project Definition Study was issued in December 1973 and, one of the options having been accepted, ADE was appointed Design Authority. It issued Development Specification DD(X)221 defining the vehicle and ordnance Factory Maribyrnong acted as its Design Agent for design and production of the prototype and the production drawing package.
Evaluation of Leopard and M60A1 Medium Tanks
The Australian Army requirement for a medium tank to replace Centurion led to a worldwide survey of contenders. Defence finally selected the German Leopard and the United States M60A1 as the most suitable and directed that trials be carried out in Australia to assess their performance against the requirement.
The Establishment was tasked to report on the technical suitability of these two tanks and ADE engineers visited Germany and the United States to obtain technical information so that trials would serve merely to supplement available data. The trials directive called for assessment of the tanks under both temperate, hot dry and hot wet conditions with emphasis on the two latter. The trials encompassed evaluation of automotive characteristics, main and secondary armament and mountings, fire control systems, stabilisation systems, communications facilities, armour and NBC protection, night operability and habitability. During the course of the trials it was necessary also to carry out separate investigations into compatibility of the German MG3 7.62 mm machine gun and Australian ammunition and into the characteristics of Leopard tank smoke grenades.
The report of the assessment was naturally most detailed and of course confined itself to purely technical considerations. Ultimately the Leopard Tank was chosen.
Wireless sender D512
Radio Set PRC-F1
Radio Terminal Set AN/MRC-127-F1
Field Automatic Telephone System (FATS)
Special Electronic Equipment - Infra-red Driving Aids
During 1964 infra-red masks were made to fit the standard headlamps of Army vehicles, so as to render them less detectable at night from overflying aircraft, while at the same time giving drivers a modicum of visibility. Two styles were required respectively for A and B vehicles. These masks were clip-on devices which avoided the need for separate infra-red driving lights.
Helmet mounted Philips infra-red binoculars were used by the driver to give sufficient vision for driving. Some problems were encountered in cornering with the limited area of illumination and loss of perspective. These were overcome by providing an infra-red spot light.
Special Electronic Equipment - Vehicle Installations
In early 1960 the Army adopted a policy of fitting Land Rover vehicles with twenty-four volt electrical systems to enable the radio systems to be powered from the vehicle. Some twenty different radio configurations were built using the C1l-R210, B47, B48, C42 and C13 series of radio sets. A universal mounting kit and vehicle modification was developed at ADE to accept this variety of HF and VHF radio installations.
The task was further extended to adapt this hardware to other vehicles such as trucks quarter Ton CT (Austin), one Ton CT (Humber), two and a half Ton GS and DUKW. In all fifty-seven different vehicle mount configurations were designed, tested and documented in the period from July 1961 to December 1963 to satisfy the total Army 'B' vehicle radio installations.
Subsequently, with the adoption of the M113 family of tracked vehicles in 1965, a series of seven installations was developed to employ the above radios as an interim measure until the VRC-12 series of radios was purchased.
Prototypes of the Fire Support Vehicle based on the fitment of a Scorpion turret and 76 mm gun to an M113A1 hull were produced by the Ordnance Factory Maribyrnong in 1975 and underwent Design and User Trials. Although generally conforming to the Army Staff Requirement and being accepted by Army, some features required improvement, particularly the provision of a powered turret traverse arrangement and first round hit probability at one thousand metres range. A Requirement Study identified the system and environmental factors contributing to sighting error and made recommendations for a cost effective solution to the problem.
The aging fleet of general service vehicles required replacement action and the Army pursued a policy of ‘buying commercial' although this term, with its spare parts connotation, lacked precision in a country which had all but lost its ability to produce special vehicles for military use. The Establishment drafted specifications for three-quarter, four and eight tonne capacity vehicles, evaluated tender proposals and made recommendations for vehicles for engineering and user evaluations. In the light class the six cylinder Land Rover was eventually chosen to replace the existing four cylinder vehicle and durability tests were carried out at Monegeetta requiring operation up to twenty four thousand kilometres. Information gained from these tests enabled the Army to plan its in-service support.
The nearest approach to local development of a vehicle came with the evolution of an early rescue fire fighting truck for the Army Fire Service. It was designed to provide quick response to an aircraft crash, probably operating across country to the site, to control any potential fire situation and rescue the aircraft occupants. The unit was designed to accelerate from stand-still to eighty kilometre per hour in twenty-five seconds and have a maximum speed of one hundred kilometres per hour. There being no suitable available commercial appliance, an International Harvester vehicle chassis was selected and an order placed on Ordnance Factory Maribyrnong to build a prototype to designs produced at EDE.
Since the question of vehicle mobility in various terrains of interest to Australian defence was a matter of great concern to the Design Authority, it was judged necessary to engage in independent study of the ability of vehicles to operate under various specified conditions from the viewpoint of component design. Ability to operate with mathematical models of mobility was therefore developed in-house at EDE and access to an advanced United States Army model was arranged through the Data Exchange Agreement as a means of gaining experience. Knowledge of various terrain factors of interest in the Australian mainland was sought through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.