The Registry Of Ex-Military Land-Rovers Au, NZ, etc Land-Rover Series 2A ¾ Ton SASR LRPV

With an entire sparsely populated continent to go play war games in, the Australian Special Air Service Regiment has conducted some of the longest and most arduous exercises ever to cross the mind of Army strategists. SASR Long Range Patrol Vehicles must function well in the harshest environment whilst carrying heavy loads and they must do its job well. It is a vital aspect of strategic reconnaissance and long range patrol duties.

The LRPV units are a variant custom fitted and modified by the SASR. How many were there in total? Perhaps only 26... perhaps 37. The latest information indicates that only 20 were made. That info is being tracked down....

An SASR VM unit with LRPV's can be air inserted or extracted by RAAF Hercules (do not try at home). A video of a hot extraction exercise would be a great hit around the mil-veh clubs: imagine you are manning the rear GPMG pedestal in a Landy awaiting to "Go for it" as the Herc comes down the bush strip... then the group of LRPV's break out of cover and go flat chat single-file through the prop dust and noise up the rolling rear ramp and into the belly of the taxi-ing Herc...

The Land-Rover Series 2A (2.25 petrol) 109" G.S. Australian Army variant was the platform used by a Perth contractor to produce the SASR LRPVs. The LRPVs were delivered and at work as early as 1973 and it was modelled on the British SAS Pink Panther (see website). The SASR vehicles changed paint schemes over the years, from standard olive drab to rather exotic cam in the late eighties, as Brian's unit shows below. The Perentie 6x6 LRPV units are in Auscam.

The SASR carried out evasion training and living off the land exercises in the 1970's and 1980's using the Series 2A LRPV. The LRPV units and their fittings were evaluated under extreme conditions and various unit level modifications were carried out. Notably the Series 3 variant with its six cylinder engine and synchro box was not used as a basis for any LRPV. The Series 3 units were certainly available - the Australian Army brought a fleet of them (starting in 1977) - and they were certainly nice and new... but the SASR stayed with the older Series 2A units.


There are LRPV 'in-service' photos in a recent publication by the SASR Association's Historical Collection. If you want to know more about the LRPV, buy the book: SAS - A Pictorial History of the Special Australian Air Service 1957 - 1997 by M.J. Malone OAM (Capt, SASR, Ret.) - (author's website).

Click here for actual SASR VM Land-Rover photos 'in service'. Photos like these...


The 2A LRPV is rare thats for sure. Where are those Series 2A 109" LRPVs now......... Well, two REMLR members in Western Australia own one each and they are in pretty good order.


1978 magazine article: "Australia's Forward Defence Land-Rovers"

This article, one page of text and one page showing two colour photos, appeared in OVERLANDER magazine, Feb/Mar 1978, and was written by Jim McNamara:

There is a group of Land-Rovers in Australia that even British Leyland might not even recognise as members of their ever-reliable family of 4WD workhorses. They have no windows, windscreen or mirror; no doors or tailgate; no canopy or hood. Where the bits have come off, other pieces have gone onto and into the Rovers. Two oversize spare wheels and tyres are bolted onto each 'roo bar; steel protective strips along the sides; extra fuel tanks to cover more than 1500 kilometres overland; and -control yourselves, shooters- a machine-gun mounted on the bonnet.

The Land-Rovers are specially-built vehicles for the Special Air Service - a commando-type reconnaissance unit based in Perth, WA. In 1976 Overlander looked at the range of Army vehicles in an article, "Overlanding Army Style" (Vol 1, No 3). These special long-range Land-Rovers were not mentioned for a number of reasons. Firstly, the SAS are reluctant to talk about them, and secondly, they are still in the throes of development.

The Rovers were built to SAS specifications by State Engineering in Perth. The cost of modifications has not been revealed by the Army, but one officer did say it cost $15,000 to modify the Rovers in his vehicle-mounted troop of the squadron.

The modifications are in fact more impressive visually, than in terms of engineering. Each vehicle has been stripped of glass and excess metal, such as mirrors, doors, hood, and tailgates. This has meant that the highest point of the vehicle is the back of the seats. For safety reasons a recent modification has been the fitting of a roll-bar to protect the driver and crewman in the event of an accident.

The Special Air Service Regiment has been experimenting with wider tyres for the Rovers, and trialling different tread patterns, including sand tyres.

Extra jerrycans are carried in the front of each vehicle alongside the seats and in carriers fitted behind the 'roo-bar on the front. The front chassis rails have been lengthened and the 'roo-bar moved forward about 0.4m to accommodate the jerrycans. These are used to carry water for washing and supplying the vehicles. In the back of the vehicle, behind the seat, a further five jerrycans give a total water supply of 160 litres (35 gals).

Fuel for the Rovers is carried in the two standard tanks, which hold 100 litres (22 gals), and three extra tanks. One of these sits at each side, directly behind the standard tanks, and the third tank is located in the back beneath a false floor. The total fuel capacity of long-range Rovers is 360 litres (80 gals), which gives a range of over 1500 kilometres under average motoring conditions.

Fuel consumption varies greatly, depending on terrain. On the open road the vehicles will return around 12mpg (to put it into familiar language); while in four-wheel-drive, traversing rough terrain, consumption falls to 4-6 mpg.

Each long-range Rover is fitted with a PTO winch at the front of the vehicle, and at the rear a pack carrier, used to carry personal equipment of the three-member crew. On the sides of the vehicles, along the front mudguards, rifle carriers hold the crew's weapons, usually automatic rifles.

The main armament of each Rover is a machine-gun mounted either front or rear. Presently two combinations are being tested. Some vehicles have M60 7.62mm machine-guns fitted on mounts over their bonnets, while others have .30 calibre machine-guns in their rears.

Protective plates on the sides of the Rovers are sections of pierced steel planking of the type used to lay airfield runways during the War. Steel guards are fitted under the front of the Rovers, mainly to protect the steering gear from stumps and rocks.

In the back of the SAS Rover is carried some highly sophisticated and valuable equipment. For overland crossings the vehicles pack astro-navigation equipment. Tests are underway on infra-red covers for the vehicle headlights, which coupled with special goggles for the drivers, will allow the SAS troops to traverse rough terrain at night undetected. Much of this equipment is still in the testing stage, and subject to strict security. Another of the new pieces of equipment is a solar battery charger, used for radio batteries, and proving invaluable.

The Rovers carry two radios - one a normal Army ANPRC 77 set for inter-vehicle communication, and the second a long-range F1 radio to talk back to base. Because of the long distances traversed by SAS patrols, they also use Morse Code to transmit messages. Morse has made a come-back for this type of operation. Many SAS exercises are held in Central and Northern Australia, and the distances involved vary from a few hundred to several thousand kilometres.

Planners are looking at the possibility of putting bike carriers on the back of the Rovers, as the SAS also uses motorbikes. Several types of machine are presently being tested by the Special Air Service, under the most gruelling conditions imaginable. The bikes are used for scouting and reconnaissance in areas where the Rovers cannot penetrate. Apart from a military police role, the last time motorcycles were used by the Australian Army was during World War II.

Despite the impressive appearance of the SAS Land-Rovers, the vehicles are basically standard. Most of the modifications are add-ons or take-offs. There are no changes to the engine or running gear at all. Preparation has been mostly strengthening and fitting attachments to enable the Rovers to carry out the special tasks of the SAS.

In fact, penny-pinching is obvious in the design of the vehicles. The Special Air Service is having trouble convincing politicians and Army procurement people that it really needs the equipment for which it is asking. One good example is tyres. For desert operations, high-flotation tyres are essential. However, the SAS is having a battle about obtaining anything other than the standard bar-tread military tyres for their Rovers. And the vehicles themselves were, before modification, second-hand, which limits their reliability.

The Special Air Service is a long-range reconnaissance and surveillance unit, and in the present defence policy of continental defence of mainland Australia, the SAS plays a forward role. In simple language, they are a crack commando unit. To carry out their role they need to be able to cross vast inland areas without using roads and supply depots. The soldiers of the SAS are hand-picked, and the best, but if they are to their job properly, their vehicles still have a long way to go.

It is true that the Rovers represent a new concept, and a sign of professionalism and forward thinking in the Army. But to be really serious about tackling the wild country of the Northern Territory and Western Australia, as any overlander knows, you need top-notch equipment. The long-range Rovers are well short of that but, whatever, they do one hell of a job.

'In hindsight' comments (Nov 2001):

Well, it's an interesting article. The SASR worked with these Series 2A LRPVs for over 15 years (1973+ to 1988+), not forgetting that these Australian Army Land-Rovers had already been serving in the Army during the late 1960's, before they were stripped down to use as an SAS LRPV. These G.S. 109" units were four years old at least (assuming they used 1969 units) before LRPV modification. It is even plausible that they used 1967 or 1968 units which were numerous too. And in 1978 dollars, "$15,000 to modify the Rovers" meant a lot of money. The G.S. powertrain did get some mods later on, including an oil cooler and Lumenition Electric Ignition. And hi-tech goodies? I assumed "infra-red covers for the vehicle headlights" was a bit of bravo sierra... until I actually handled a set (new in carton) in 2002.

The reference to "machine-guns fitted on mounts over their bonnets" is explained by the accompanying photos. The mounting is off the top of the firewall panel, directly over the centre of the passenger-side air vent flap and the gun is operated by the front seat passenger (there are some bogus looking 'army-type' persons in the photos). In the movies, machine-gunners attract return fire... and there is not an ounce of protection in an LRPV - strictly reconn, evasion and 'shoot n scoot' scenarios at the most for the LRPV! And its worth repeating that "others have .30 calibre machine-guns in their rears!".

Also the references to a fuss about "obtaining anything other than the standard bar-tread military tyres" is suspect. Wider flotation tyres in the mulga, spinifex and gibber environment only means more punctures. Sand tyres might have been okay for the Brit's Pink Panthers in the Sahara... but for the Gibson, the Canning and the Nullabor?

And in the final washup... the facts support the final remark that "they did one hell of a job" and overturn the article's assertion that they weren't "top notch" and "well short" of suitable. Here's a quote from SAS - A Pictorial History of the Special Australian Air Service 1957 - 1997 by M.J. Malone OAM (Capt, SASR, Ret.) - (author's website):

Starting with the four cylinder Series 2A LWB LandRover and achieving all that has been achieved is nothing short of remarkable. The many exercises in the Kimberley, the Nullabor Plain and Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts tested the durability of the old Series 2A and it always came through. It would have to be one of the toughest vehicles ever produced given the hiding it's had in SASR for over 15 years."



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