Recently three members of
the South Australian Military Vehicle Museum in Port Adelaide purchased
a unique military vehicle. Named "Bandicoot" it is an LP-4
(Local Pattern) Armoured Car, one of 18 manufactured, and the only known
example left in the world.
The production history of
these vehicles started with a research and development phase between
1931 to 1933 involving the Munitions Supply Board, the Tank Section of
the Small Arms School at Randwick, NSW and the Ordnance Factory at
Maribyrnong, Victoria. In November 1934 the experimentation culminated
in the production of one LP-1 version named "Corrobboree"
which was subsequently nicknamed "Ned Kelly" due to its
configuration being likened to the namesake bushranger's body armour.
The hull, made from armour plate supplied by Hadfields of Sheffield,
England, was mounted on a 1933 two-wheel drive Ford truck chassis and
powered by a 50 horsepower four cylinder Ford engine.
Extensive testing during
1935 proved the LP-1 was unsuitable as a military vehicle due to its
large weight, high centre of gravity, and noise. There was also a severe
lack of interior ventilation that was especially dangerous when the
mounted .303 Vickers machine gun was fired causing a high level of
cordite fumes and carbon monoxide within the hull.
It was back to the
drawing board resulting in the production of two LP-2 versions in 1937.
This time one, named "Billabong", was based on Ford components
whilst the second, named "Boomerang", was based on Chevrolet
components. The engine in the Ford version was upgraded to a side-valve
V8. Weaponry now was a .303 Lewis light machine gun.
June 1939 saw the
completion of six LP-3 versions whilst at the turn of 1939/40, nine
LP-4's were built. The LP-3s & 4s were almost identical apart from
the drive configuration with the LP-4s being equipped with a Marmon
Herrington All Wheel Drive kit making them a four wheel drive vehicle.
They were respectively based on 1938 and 1939 Ford truck chassis' and
powered by 85 horsepower Ford V8 engines. The LP-3s were named
"Crow", "Curlew", "Cockatoo",
"Stingray", "Starfish" and "Snake". Apart
from "Bandicoot" the names of the other eight LP-4s are
unknown to the author. Perhaps a reader can help.
Military deployment of
these vehicles was, in the case of the LP-1 and 2, the First Armoured
Car Regiment in Horsham, Victoria, the LP-3s to the Second Armoured Car
Regiment in Ashfield, NSW with the LP-4s to both Regiments. The vehicles
were declared obsolete during 1942.
An interesting aspect of
the LP-4 version, the "Bandicoot" being one, is that they were
built at the Railway Workshops at Islington, South Australia. The group
picture shows the nine completed LP-4s at Islington.
The restoration history
of the "Bandicoot" is that in 1974, a military vehicle
collector located the hull on a farm near Elmore in Victoria. It had
been stripped of its doors, turret and interior fittings with the
original chassis having been cut up and the engine sold for parts. In
1981 the chassis, in poor condition, was found in a wrecking yard in
Epsom, Victoria. Restoration began in September 1998 after an
unsuccessful 24 years searching for other parts and literature.
is operational and road registered and is on permanent display in the
The author, contactable
at email@example.com eagerly
seeks further information about these vehicles.
Australian Military Equipment Profiles Vol.3 by Michael K.Cecil)