The bulk of this article is based heavily on the Champ or Chump article written by Michael Cecil for Army Motors.
In 1953 an Austin Champ was brought to Australia by the Department of Supply on behalf of the Australian Army to be tested for suitability for Army service, not as a replacement for the Willys and Ford Jeeps in use at the time, but to augment their numbers. C-70749 was the commonwealth registration of this vehicle. This was a standard FV1801 model WN1 Austin Champ fitted with the Rolls-Royce B40 engine.
Two other Austin Champs, chassis numbers WN1-15002 and WN1-15005 and fitted with Austin A90 engines rather than the standard Rolls- Royce B40, were tested by the Australian Department of Supply. chassis number WN1-15005 was registered as C- 67997 and WN1-15002 was also issued with a commonwealth registration number. These two champs wore commonwealth registrations and were never entered into Army service. They were in fact returned to the UK once testing had concluded.
At the conclusion of testing in 1955 the two champs with the Austin A90 engines fitted were returned to the UK. Some defects in the design were detected as a result of the testing, the basic vehicle was deemed to be acceptable for Australian Army service provided some minor modifications were incorporated into the production vehicles. As a result and order for 400 Austin Champs was placed with the British Ministry of supply. The vehicles had sequential chassis numbers from WN1-15751 to WN1-16150 and were in the 104-000+ range of Army Registration Numbers. The Army testing vehicle once repaired from an incident with a tree and loaded trailer, had a modification kit from the UK fitted and was contunied to be used by the Australian Army.
Apparently the Champ was not a particularly popular vehicle whilst in service. It was considered by many to be overly complicated and difficult to service. Others were not a fan of it's handling characteristics as it was thought to be unstable in rough going, and unstable in high speed cornering. This was probably more to do with driver perception than any real handling issues. At the time the drivers were used to the fairly stiffly sprung Jeeps, and this independently sprung Champ. A similar problem ironically encountered when the Land Rover 110 entered service with coil sprung suspension after drivers being used to stiff leaf springs of the Land Rover series 2 and 3 from decades previous.
The Champ was used in three variants in the Australian Army, the standard 1/4 Ton GS, a Fitted for Transmission, and Fitted For Stretcher Frame. One was apparently even tested with the 106mm M40A1 Anti Tank Recoilless Rifle. This vehicle was apparently held at ADE for Fording trials and test fittings of the Larkspur radios of the time. It is not certain if this one vehicle was the original trials vehicle or not, however it did wear Army Registration 104-710 as seen in Mike Cecil's article Champ or Chump included down the page. In one photo it is shown fitted with radios in the back and Antennas on the guards, however the attached documents note that the FFT Champs in service had the antennas attached on top of the indicator mount on the rear bodywork as seen in the drawings below. All australian Champs were fitted with a snorkel, whereas some UK ones were not.
With the introduction of the Land Rover to the Army fleet of vehicles, the Champs were relegated to second line duties, and were eventually all disposed of by the mid 1960's.
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Known Australian Army Publications relating to Austin Champs:
Notes: Most of these publications are the same as UK manuals, but with different dates of issue. However, some are special to the Australians and are marked as such: *
Unless otherwise noted, the below photos and drawings are from a BMC Military Vehicle Sales Folder that also includes the Austin K9WD 1 Ton & 3 Ton Trucks. From the Glenn Smith Collection.