Recently while attending the Wicksteed at War show in Northamptonshire, which by the way was a great family day out and FREE. Plus, if you are a Land Rover enthusiast they had a large range of interesting and unusual Land Rovers on show – I recommend you look out for it next year!
There was one particular vehicle that caught my eye at the show. It was a 6 Wheeled Range Rover Classic V8 Fire Tender conversion, converted for the RAF.
Curious to find out more about this interesting Range Rover conversion I started doing a bit of investigation (on the internet of course) and found out they were originally converted by a company called Carmichael in the 1970’s. The 6 wheel versions were mainly used for commercial market fire tenders and rescue. Being built on a longer chassis they had extra carrying capacity and space for the rescue equipment. During the whole production run from 1971 to the mid 90’s they did approximately 400 6 wheel conversions!
The Royal Airforce TACR-2A
The original Carmichael commando was based on a two-door Range Rover and had a two-door cab. However, when the Royal Air Force wanted a large batch of these vehicles with a five-man, four-door cab in the late 1970’s Carmichael was unable to oblige. So the RAF drew up its own design, and had it built on the Carmichael chassis by Gloster Saro, and later also by HCB-Angus. Carmichael themselves built the bodies of some of the very late RAF vehicles.
The initials TACR stood for Truck, Airfield Crash Rescue, and the 2 was for the second iteration of this vehicle type; the first had been based on a 109-inch Land Rover. Their main purpose was to deal with minor airfield problems, such as wheel brake fires in the aircraft. They were also first response crash rescue vehicles to get the crew away from the crashed aircraft while the bigger and slower vehicles followed soon after to deal with the fire hazard.
Also at the show, that day were some wartime Series Land Rovers. These were purchased by the British Army as a trial batch in 1949. The earliest Series Land Rovers were found to complement the Austin Champ (which had been commissioned by the government in 1945) very well. The Land Rover was cheaper, lighter, consumed less fuel. They were ideal for behind-the-lines transport duties. However, the Champ was better suited as a front-line combat vehicle.
Over time Land Rover modified the versions, and they became better suited to the British Army’s needs. The initial contract order of Champs was never expanded and production ceased after only five years. In contrast, Britain’s armed forces continued to buy Land Rovers. The British Army had also introduced armoured personnel carriers, reducing the need for a front-line light 4×4.
It turned out the Land Rover became the ideal platform for development by the military, such as S11A Ambulance, S11A ‘Pink Panther’ these were adapted by the SAS for dessert sue. Designed for long distance reconnaissance and special operation missions – all very exciting!
S11A Pink Panther
Fifty prototypes of the Amphibious S11A 109 were also built for use in sea landings. The Ministry of Defence cancelled the original requirement, and the prototype was not developed any further.
Interesting how the Land Rover played its part in the war, and still does today!