A blast from the past: Land Rover Lightweight Gunship

A classic solution against modern Audi drivers.

Any driver of an old-and-slow Land Rover must have experienced the impatience of drivers of modern cars, usually Audi’s. You know the feeling of being tailgated for miles, being honked at when you’re finally overtaken and then cut-off or brake checked aggressively, and there is not much you can do about it with what is left of the 69 bhp under your bonnet. Unless you own a genuine Land Rover gunship ofcourse.

When they were sold new, the Land Rover 1/2 ton, or ‘Lightweight’ could be specified in GS (General Service) or FFR (Fitted for Radio) guise, or with an M40 106mm recoilless rifle. Its 105mm (not 106mm, long story) ammunition was developed to destroy tanks up to 1350 meters. As firing the M40 would reveal your position, it was essential you could relocate as soon as possible. And that is where the Land Rover Lightweight platform comes in handy, sporting a topspeed of 55 mph.

The 106mm gunship conversion was carried out by Marshall’s of Cambridge, also known for the Land Rover 109 Ambulance bodies. Fitting a small canon meant that the upper bulkhead vent panel was deleted and split windscreens were needed to improve barrel angle. The bonnet and side wings are protected by blast shields, and the headlamps by mesh light guards.
The spare wheel could not be fitted to the bonnet for obvious reasons and is mounted at the right-hand side instead of a passenger door. The tripod for the M40 was a bit too long and wide to fit in the back of the Land Rover Lightweight, reason two pods stick out at the back. With a weight of just over 200 kgs, the 106mm was perfect for the 1/2 ton, leaving room for ammo and gun crew.

The images in this post are from the original 1980 sales leaflet. The fact that the 1/2 ton 106mm gunship had Michelin XS tyres, which are sand biased, fitted as standard gives away which markets Land Rover was aiming at. Pun intended.

Ronald Janus
De Autoboerderij

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