Land Rover Series 2
|The Series 2 Land Rovers
were pioneers, trailblazers and workhorses of the Australian Armed
Forces with all three services of the Australian Defence Force
utilising their services. The largest operator by far was the
Australian Army. Their Land Rovers were bespoke vehicles for the
Army, from the 88 inch Command Recon with very few changes from a
standard civilian vehicle, through to the Ambulance and Workshop
vehicles which had unique chassis and bodywork components.
AMF SERIES 2 CONTRACT
According to archives, a series of vehicle tests were carried out to select new vehicles for the AMF in 1958 and 1959. The Army Design Establishment (ADE) went to work to prepare reports helping to determine which vehicle manufacturer received the supply contracts. The ADE files sighted to date refer to "Project V50" and/or "Combined Services Vehicle Specification N° 3 of 19 June 1957." The dates of the actual vehicle tests date from 6 May 1958 and the ADE evaluative test process went on for over 12 months; eg., the Jeep CJ-3 report (finalised and submitted by the ADE OC to AMF HQ) is dated June 12th 1959. The tested environments were abbreviated as "hot-wet" and "hot-dry". Those references imply the summer of December 1958 through February 1959 as being the make-or-break trial when all the vehicle company exec's must have been more than a little nervous. Big money was at stake.
Land-Rover's Solihull factory began turning out the new "Series 2" (or "Series II") design in April 1958, ten years to the month after the first public display of the Land-Rover in Amsterdam 1948. The new model Series 2 of April 1958 had a new wider style/look (designed by Rover's David Bache) and a new engine in the case of the long wheelbase units.
Information from a Australian Military Equipment Profiles publication lists the Series 2 "Australian Army appraisal unit" as chassis number 142800001 - ie '142' is code for 'RHD Export' assembled at Solihull ('143' code would be RHD CKD) and '8' refers to the year 1958, s/n is number '00001'. This Land-Rover was rushed from the Solihull assembly line and transported by ship to Australia -ASAP- to be tested along with other 4x4 ¼ ton vehicles by the Australian Design Establishment.
Allowing for six weeks on the sea, that Series 2, the first ever seen in Australia, arrived in Port Melbourne around the end of May 1958 and was handed over for testing as soon as possible - by May 1958 the "Project V50 tests" had already been underway for a month at the ADE Trials and Proving Wing (TPW) bush circuit near Melbourne. The ADE report for Test Instruction TI 1762 are available on the below page
This 1958 'Regular' 88inch 4 cylinder Land-Rover, ARN 107-671 (Commonwealth plates C67999), with it's English canvas top and transparent rear windows, went on to win the AMF testing contest between five manufacturers for the supply contract. Rover Australia was also obligated to follow some mods and Australian manufacturing content required by the Government. (More details at ANZACsteel website). The delivery of CKD Series 2 ¼ ton 88inch and 109inch units from Solihull UK followed quickly: the earliest arrivals were the 88inch short wheelbase units, as per Contract number 104337 (issued in November 1958). They are all dated 16.12.58 and were delivered 'in-service' in early 1959.
The earliest 'Long' 109inch units to arrive in Australia later on (newly released as a Land-Rover model world-wide) were fitted as field ambulances according to the latest research from Mike Cecil (author of Australian Military Equipment Profiles):
The success of the Ambulance prototypes led to further variants being built and the increase of orders for Land-Rovers. The variants to follow were the mobile wireless stations (F.F.W.), the Fire Fighting appliances and the Field Workshop units.
How many Series 2 units were supplied to the AMF? Well, the Land-Rover Australia 50th Anniversary booklet and the LRA website quotes a Series 2 total of 1,150 units. The same total was reported in the October 1999 issue of Land Rover Magazine. The December 1988 issue of Overlander magazine states that the first Series 2 88inch was delivered in March 1959 and that the first Series 2 109inch was delivered in November 1959.
However, Australian Army Registration -provisional- data from the B.B.B. shows that:
Minimal Air Force and Navy Land-Rover
information has been uncovered to date, complicated by the
RAAF Vehicle Ledgers currently having been "lost".
88 Inch Land Rovers
109 Inch Land Rovers