and Equipment - Weapons and Equipment
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Weapons / Equipment
LRDG patrols tended to arm their trucks with everything
they could lay their hands on, armament including anything from infantry
weapons to scavenged aircraft machine guns. The following is not a complete
list of all weapons ever found on patrol trucks, it rather lists the weapons
most commonly used by LRDG.
Trucks' bodies were equipped with six to eight
pivots which could be used as gun mountings; larger weapons like the Browning
.50cal (and sometimes the Boyse rifle) were mounted on a pivot bolted
to the floor of the body.
Vickers .303 water cooled - Veterans of the
first World War, these machine guns were among the first weapons issued
to LRDG patrols. They proved to be pretty reliable and remained in service
throughout the African campaign. Shortage of cooling water was successfully
overcome by filling them with Hypoid oil.
The water cooled .303 Vickers
Lewis Mk. I - Another remnant of the first World War, the Lewis Mk.1 .303 calibre was a common sight on LRDG trucks during their early days. The exposed magazine base proved to be pretty susceptible to sand, and the weapons had a nasty tendency to jam if not cleaned regularly.
The Lewis Mk.I
Boyse A/T Rifle
- A rather old-fashioned design, the Boyse was a high-velocity rifle shooting
a special armor-penetrating projectile. While it was effective at penetrating
vehicle armor at several hundred feet, the amount of damage done by the
non-explosive bullet was negligible (the chances of hitting something vital
inside the vehicle were pretty slim). The Boyse rifles were soon discarded
by the Group, to be replaced by the much more effective 37mm Bofors and
later, captured Breda guns (see here).
The Boyse Antitank Rifle, obviously
on a W/T truck
Browning Aircraft Pattern - These heavy .5in
machine guns were among the most powerful weapons in LRDG's arsenal, proving
especially effective against air attacks. To a limited extent, the .50cal could even be used against armored vehicles; it has been noted by several people that at the time, a Jeep armed with a single .50cal could well hold its own against a light tank due to its advantage in speed and maneuverability.
An LRDG trooper proudly displaying
Vickers K/KO - The Vickers K (twin gun) and
KO (basically same design, single gun) were a common sight both on LRDG
and SAS vehicles; originally designed for Aircraft use, LRDG was equipped
with a number of these machine guns after the RAF's Lysanders were put
out of service and stripped of their weapons. These weapons had to be fitted with improvised stocks and triggers in order to be operated manually.
An SAS Jeep armed with twin Vickers.
Note the single Vickers KO in the back of the vehicle.
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No. 11 Radio Set - The British No.11 Radio set was standard equipment for LRDG's wireless trucks. Standard operational range for voice transmission for this set was 15 miles; using morse code and an external antenna, communication over distances of several hundred miles could be achieved. The largest recorded distance of an LRDG patrol using a No.11 set was 1500 miles.
LRDG patrols used the Wyndon Aerial which consisted of a wire of variable length stretched between two poles. Wireless trucks can easily be identified on photos by the disassembled poles mounted to the side of the vehicle.
The No.11 set as depicted in the set's manual.
A No.11 set in prime condition.
Schematic drawing of the Wyndon Aerial from the manual.
- Sun Compass - Due to the influences of the
vehicle moving about and the car's metal parts, navigation by magnetic
compass while driving in a car is comparatively inaccurate. While this
effect is easily corrected by checking against landscape features like
mountains, rivers etc., the absence of such features in desert terrain
made magnetic compasses almost totally useless for LRDG units. They resorted
to using sun compasses, which basically record the sun's position and give
the direction according to the current time of day. For exact navigation,
it was thus essential to know the exact time, and LRDG radio operators
had the additional duty of constantly monitoring BBC's time signals.
The dashboard of a restored 30cwt
Chevy with a good view of the sun compass
Detailed view of the sun compass
- Water Condenser - This
simple yet ingenious device invented by LRDG officer Ralph Bagnold in the
1920's quickly became a standard piece of equipment for car engines, thus
not only enabling the desert patrols to use their vehicles in extreme temperatures,
but also greatly contributing to the reliability of car engines in general:
As opposed to earlier water cooling systems which allowed boiling water
to evaporate through a vent on top of the radiator, Bagnold simply placed
a pipe on top of that vent, collecting all the steam and directing it to
an external container where it condensed back to water. As the engine cooled,
pressure in the radiator would drop and the water from the external container
would be sucked back into the cooling system.
Both water condenser and sun compass
are clearly visible on this WB Chevy
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