What makes this a Gunbuggy ?
This is the first in a new series of pages which will graphically show the differences that make a particular variant special. A special thankyou must go to Glen Hutley for 2 reasons. One for suggesting this type of page as a "Virtual Museum", and secondly for kicking the series off with photographs and information about his Gunbuggy.
So what makes a Series 2a Gunbuggy a Gunbuggy and not a General Service?
The "Gunbuggy" was built to carry and fire the M40A1 recoilless 106mm anti tank weapon. Most of the distinctive features of the buggy were designed around this weapon even though in later life the buggy itself was adapted to many other purposes.
More photos of Glen's Gunbuggy can be found in his shed.
A little bit of background.
The first of the M40A1 recoilless rifles were ordered in 1958 and came into service with the Australian Army in 1960. Initially this weapon was mounted in the back of a stock standard 88" short wheel base CR with only minor modifications for ammunition storage and gun mounting, still retaining doors and other creature comforts. During the initial firing trials held in 1960 the boffins in their infinite wisdom decided that certain modifications were necessary for both the welfare of the carrying vehicle as well as for the operating crews, and the design refinement process was set in hurried motion.
In mid 1961 the first of the 24 S2 gunbuggies (including the prototype) were accepted into service and posted to Armoured units as the basic anti tank weapon. Later a further 45 S2A versions were built, accepted, and the distribution of the weapon was increased to include Infantry Anti Armour Platoons as well.
The marque were deployed to South Vietnam with anti armour platoons of infantry (later called 'assault platoons') and regularly deployed to Fire Support Bases for perimeter defence. Some were re-armed with M60 GPMGs and redeployed to Transport Platoons and used as convoy escorts, and several were simply worn out and written off in country (SVN).
By December 1991, more than 30 years after their initial introduction, there were still 24 of these remarkable little vehicles still in service, with the last of these being withdrawn from service in the mid late 1990's.
|The first and most obvious modification was the cut away guards at the front. This was done for the simple reason that when the first M40A1 was mounted to a standard Landy and fired over the forward quarter, the muzzle blast was enough to damage the aluminium guards protruding in front of the actual weapon's barrel. Answer was to cut them short and angled.|
The same was found to occur at the rear of the vehicle, in that a recoilless weapon actually balances the recoil produced by venting the gases produced by ignition in an opposite direction, ie, to the rear. The concussion generated here was also enough to damage the rear section of the vehicle. The answer in this case was to cut the body off just in front of the recoil vents and replace the aluminium parts required with steel pieces. The rear chassis and cross member was still required on which to mount the spring hangers and also the rear support legs of the Rcl rifle, but the last 22mm or so of body tub was surplus to requirement and subsequently discarded.
The idea of these little things was to hide in a hull down position, wait for a tank, sight, shoot and because of the very obvious tell tale flash that gave away any chance of remaining unseen, back off and shoot through in a hurry. With this in mind, towing a trailer could have had very dire results indeed and as a result was considered a definite no no, and to ensure the temptation was never taken no towing apparatus was ever fitted. A rearward recovery point was welded to the chassis though.
|Same goes for this one of the Series 1 fuel tamks that are fitted.|
|Another rather obvious hallmark of the buggy are the aero type windscreens that were fitted. These were normally only used for ceremonial parades, official inspections and extended road use. Under normal operational conditions they were fitted in specially designed clips behind the relevant front seats. These little clips are rather insignificant but are each marked with their own ADE design numbers (odd suffix numbers to the left and even numbers to the right).|
|Also whilst in the seating area, the M40A1 was mounted on a tripod type mount with two folding legs on the rear and a locating wheel on the front that fitted on a runner that was fitted through the cut away tub bulkhead, protruding from the rear tub in between the drivers and crew commanders seats. Once again all these modded parts are numbered with their distinctive ADE part numbers.|
|This leads to a couple of other minor problems, where to stash some of the goodies that are normally carried behind the seats. Crank handles, recovery CES, (remember it cant go on the mudguards because they have been cut off and the blast would char them) etc. The CES had a differently designed set of holders, unique to the buggies, mounted in the rear of the tub under the gunner's seat.|
|The crank handle which was a major part of the CES couldn't go behind the seats because the glass was there plus it was too long and encroached on the gun's front wheel so it was mounted in its own little spot under the bonnet on the left hand guard. Nice and warm on the hands on a cold winters day|
|Ammunition was of prime importance and 50cal ammo for the sighting rifle was carried in a separate box on the front wall of the tub whilst a mixture of HEP-T or HEAT or 'Beehive' shells was carried for the 106mm, three on each side under the gunner and sighter's seats, plus one in the weapon itself. The fact that this ammo was carried under the seats explains why the join of aluminium and steel sections at the rear was done outwardly and not inwardly (which would have been much neater) and also why the fuel tanks and fillers had to be modified. More ADE design numbers. The standard fuel tanks on a Land Rover actually enter the vehicle through the rear tub but in this case this area was required to carry ammunition so the simplest option of the lot was to fit the (then) readily available S1 under seat top filling fuel tanks to the vehicle and get away with minor modifications.|
|Personal gear stowage was always a problem and with a crew of four men plus ammunition, rations, and personal kit, space was not one of the vehicle's main selling points, especially considering the fact that these vehicles would be out in the field in support of their Infantry Bn for days at a time and needing to be self sufficient at that. One small concession to personal comfort was a box riveted to the firewall designed to carry rations, coincidentally the same size as a 10 man pack.This box of course meant that the starter had to be relocated as did some of the various nom and info plates. Being riveted to the firewall would mean minimum time would be required to heat up the rations inside I guess. A stowage box replaced the centre seat although its normal capacity had been encroached upon by the intruding wheel on the M40A1. What's so different about a gunbuggy - Australian Land Rover Owners Page 4 of 12 http://|
|With the added weight of the gun (219kg) plus a crew of four, the rear suspension was beefed up slightly.|
|In travelling mode the barrel of the recoilless rifle was fastened in a circular stay mounted to the firewall between the two aero type screens. This constant bouncing effect required extra stiffening of the top section of the firewall in the form of a couple of sections of steel reinforcement held in place by two bolts.|
|Other reinforcement panels were mounted over the gearbox cross member to bolster the gun wheel mount that intruded into the stowage box between the seats. The power take off holes in the cross members behind the gearbox carried a large tube from the back of the gearbox to the rear of the vehicle and this was blanked off at the front and covered by a swing cover at the rear and housed the cleaning gear for the 106. This shot was taken from under the vehicle and may be a little misleading. The ribbed bit in the foreground is obviously a prop shaft and the cleaning gear tube can be seen running over the rear axle between the drive shaft and the exhaust pipe.|
|A lot of thought and design know-how has gone into this last modification, and for the life of me, I can not understand why anyone would go to any lengths to design a windscreen wiper set up for a vehicle that is completely open to the elements. This piece of equipment should go down as one of the more noted oxymorons alongside 'Military Intelligence' and 'Telstra Service'. But, my scepticism to one side, the wiper motors were relocated through the vent covers which in turn were sealed closed and a longer wiper blade arm employed to reach the screen, all for some obscure reason. Just think about driving this thing in the rain, a wiper would be the last requirement!|
|When these vehicles were designed the current radio was the ANPRC10 set and as a result, just to the left of the ration box fitted to the firewall was a "u" shaped bracket that was designed to hold this radio in an upright position. Also at the time of design the average AT or AA operator was issued with an OMC (Owen Machine Carbine) and most of the weapon mounts built into this vehicle (alongside the drivers seat and under the gun crew's rear seats) were for these types of personal weapon. As times and equipment changed a lot of ingenious adaptation had to take place. Some of these vehicles saw in excess of 30 years of service and in that time a lot of weaponry and equipment changes took place.|