and Equipment - Patrol Cars
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Overview / Patrol Cars / Heavy Section/Royal Artillery / Weapons and Equipment / Patrol Structure and Camouflage Schemes
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Trucks / Pilot Cars / Special-Purpose Vehicles / Planes / Other Vehicles
Chevy WB 30cwt
- The first vehicles used by LRDG were Chevrolet WBs. The very first of
these were actually bought from a local Chevrolet dealer, some were borrowed
from the Egyptian Army, and relatively few were acquired through regular
army channels. All of these (like all later Chevys) had their cabs removed
and were equipped with large sand tires.
Only some 35 of these trucks were acquired, which
(compared to the 200 Chevy 1533s ordered for the Group in 1942) highlights
the humble beginnings of LRDG's patrols.
One of the earliest WB Chevys purchased
by LRDG; note elegant 40's style fenders
A WB Chevy stuck in soft sand
A survivor of the war: the Chevy WB
in the Imperial War Museum, London
Ford F30 - With its 4-wheel drive and high
ground clearance, the Ford F30 seemed to be an obvious choice as a patrol
truck; however, the additional weight of the 4-wheel drive and the high
fuel consumption (about twice that of the Chevrolet trucks) caused many
problems with these vehicles. As it turned out that the Ford engine was
very susceptible to sand and the trucks started to require insane amounts
of oil after a relatively short time of duty, more and more Fords had to
be abandoned until finally all the remaining F30s were replaced with Chevy
30cwts in March 1942.
LRDG's Fords usually had the hood and cab removed
for better cooling, the condenser was mounted on the running board.
A Ford F30 bristling with weapons
A restored Ford F30 in LRDG camouflage
Another view of this beautifully restored truck
Chevy 30cwt 1533x2
- The vehicle most readily associated by most people with LRDG, the 30cwt
Chevy was the mainstay patrol vehicle for almost two years (starting service
in March 1942). The sturdy Canadian design proved to be extremely reliable;
there are several reports of these trucks falling headlong into sand pits
several feet deep without taking any substantial damage. Captain Wilder
of T Patrol during the Barce Raid even reportedly managed to ram an Italian
tank at full speed, push it from the road to clear a path for his patrol,
and still drive his badly damaged truck to safety.
LRDG's 30cwts were equipped with extra-large sand
tires, cabs were removed and the body heightened with wooden planks to
increase load. Windscreens were usually replaced with small aero screens.
Wireless trucks had a special cabinet in the back to carry the radio set.
A 30cwt Chevy in all its glory
The restored Chevy of the LRDG Preservation
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Te Rangi III, also known as "Stinker"
Chevy 15cwt 1311x3
- This smaller variant of the Chevrolet truck proved to be every bit as sturdy and desert-worthy as its larger brother, the 1533. 1311s were used as pilot cars from late 1941 until the arrival of Jeeps almost two years later; during that time, they partook in some of the longest missions LRDG undertook. After their replacement with the faster and lighter Jeeps, they were relegated to HQ to be used for a variety of purposes (HQ had already used a number of 1311s for their own purposes, most notably as a field ambulance).
A 15cwt to the right, next to two
30cwt's. This picture gives a good impression of the 15cwt's smaller frame
and lower ground clearance.
Willy's Jeep -
The first Jeeps to arrive in the North African theatre were those issued
to Stirling's SAS (which had relied on LRDG transport until they were equipped
with their own Jeeps in early 1942). After the SAS had to abandon some
Jeeps in the desert, these were salvaged and repaired by LRDG patrols;
soon after, all patrols were equipped with their own Jeeps as replacements
for the 15cwt Chevrolets. The legendary desert performance and reliability
of the Jeeps made them ideal for LRDG patrols. Some of LRDG's Jeeps were
later used in the Balkan and in Italy (where the patrol trucks were of
In contrast to all the other vehicles, the Jeeps
required very few modifications to be fit for desert use; the radiator
was cut out to assist cooling, and a condenser was mounted on the grill.
It should be noted that most LRDG Jeeps were actually only lightly armed
(usually carrying only a single .50cal Browning) and carried pretty few
supplies. The pictures often seen of Jeeps bristling with several machine
guns and laden with dozens of Jerrycans (and often wrongly ascribed to
LRDG) usually show SAS or PPA (Popski's Private Army, see here)
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A lightly-armed LRDG Jeep in action
G Patrol's Jeep, driven by Thomas
Tail" - Very early on in LRDG's history, it was realized that patrols might be in danger of being ambushed by enemy armored vehicles. To counter this potential threat, the last truck in each patrol was equipped with some sort of light artillery.
Wireless Truck (various patrol trucks) - One of each patrol's trucks was equipped with a No.11 Radio Set for communication with HQ. These sets were mounted in a special compartment in the front right of the truck's body; in the Ford F30, access to the radio set required the complete side of the truck body to be removed - not exactly an ideal arrangement. The 1533 Chevys were equipped with a conveniently designed compartment whose access hatch could be opened without removing sand channles or other equipment that might be carried on the side of the truck.
37mm Bofors - The 37mm Bofors was a very common gun that could be found on all fronts of the war. Originally a Polish design, licensed copies of the gun were soon built by almost every Allied nation (the German 3,7cm PAK35 was actually an unlicensed copy of the Bofors).
Several Bofors guns were installed on Chevrolet WBs and Ford F30s, but they were pretty unpopular with the troopers since they weighed the vehicle down and took up way too much space. As enemy armor was very rarely encountered, some of the Bofors guns seem to have been unceremoniously dumped by the trucks' crews to gain some extra space for supplies.
LRDG's Bofors trucks usually carried 45 rounds each of AP and HE shells.
A Bofors gun mounted on a WB Chevy;
one of the very rare pictures where helmets are worn by LRDG troops.
Another view of the Bofors gun,
with a sight of the gun mounting
20mm Breda - The Italian-built Breda 20/65 modello 35 gun was much more popular with the Group - it was lighter, had a much faster rate of fire, took up less space and it doubled as a very effective anti-aircraft gun.
The Breda, which was initially a belt-fed design, was equipped with 10-clip magazines; that way, gunners could quickly switch between different ammunition types as needed. To maintain a high rate of fire, the gunner's assistant had to change cartridges as quickly as possible. The gun was fired via a foot-operated trigger; it could traverse by 360 degrees horizontally and 180 degrees vertically.
The Breda mounted on a 30cwt Chevy
A close-up view of the Breda gun,
this time on an F30
In addition to the No.11, W/T trucks also carried a Philips receiver needed for monitoring BBC's time signal (which was essential for exact navigation in the featureless desert).
A Chevy 1533 with Wireless set. Note
Wyndon aerial on side of truck
Medical Staff Truck (Chevy 15cwt) - LRDG Headquarters maintained a single truck to be used as a field ambulance car by medical officer "Doc" Lawson. The first truck used for this purpose was a 1311 Chevrolet, with a very improvised set of medical equipment in the body which was covered by a canvas. After this vehicle broke down, another 1311 was used; this time, some LRDG troopers went to some lengths to construct a closed body for the truck that was subsequently equipped for ambulance use.
The first medical staff truck.
The second truck, with its wood
construction on the back.
The interior of the second truck.
Medical Supply Truck (various patrol trucks)
- A medical orderly accompanied all LRDG patrols to look after wounded
units in the field. One of each patrols' vehicles was equipped to carry
medical supplies (which required a cooled compartment to carry medicines);
these vehicles usually carried a stretcher on the side of the body.
If possible, badly wounded units were evacuated
by plane as soon as possible - an event that, luckily,
appeared only occasionally.
The stretcher on the side identifies
this F30 as medical supply truck
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Waco ZGC-7 - The
Waco ZGC-7 was a small single-engined biplane built by the Weaver Aircraft
Company of Ohio during the 1930's, geared mainly at businessmen who wanted
a reliable and reasonably fast way of travelling long distances. The ZGC,
basically a customized version of WACO's popular UIC design, could seat
two to four passengers and travelled at speeds of around 200km/h (varying
with the type of engine installed). Two of these biplanes were bought by
LRDG off Egyptian businessmen in January, 1941; unfortunately, nobody seems
to remember any specifics on these planes except the fact that one had
a smaller engine than the other (the 'Big WACO' carried the RAF designation
AX697, the smaller one was AX695).
The planes were used for a variety of tasks, including
transporting officers from Cairo to base camps, carrying wounded units,
reconnaissance and rescuing stranded personnel from the desert. Their sturdy
design and the ability to land and start almost anywhere made these machines
ideally suited for LRDG's needs.
One of LRDG's WACO Airplanes
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- A number of these vehicles were captured from Italian troops, but their
desert performance was no match for LRDG's Chevy and Ford trucks. They
were temporarily used as training vehicles for new drivers.
Drivers in training are sent down
a dune in a captured Fiat
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