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Category: Armour/Allied WW2

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THE BANDICOOT

"Bandicoot"

THE ONLY ONE LEFT IN THE WORLD.

By Bob Moseley

 

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.

The "Bandicoot" is operational and road registered and is on permanent display in the museum.

The author, contactable at adabob@smartchat.net.au eagerly seeks further information about these vehicles.

(Bibliography - Australian Military Equipment Profiles Vol.3 by Michael K.Cecil)

From http://www.military-vehicle-museum.org.au 

FOLLOW UP ARTICLE

THE ONLY ONE LEFT IN THE WORLD (OR SO I THOUGHT) 

(By Bob Moseley Ph: 0421 038 661)

In a previous article I wrote about a rare armoured car named  Bandicoot which I thought was the only one left in the world.  Well guess what?  On a recent trip interstate with other members of the South Australian Military Vehicle Museum, I found the hull of a sister to the Bandicoot.  A faded number on the rear bulkhead, 6281, identified her as Porcupine.

The Author in the un-restored hull and the finished project undertaken by John Belfield, owner of the Melbourne Tank Museum at Narre Warren North, Victoria

After publication of my original article both in the Signal and the Victorian Mufti, I received several telephone calls and letters containing anecdotes and wartime photographs of some of these armoured cars.  As with all my articles, I was amazed at the photographs that came to light given that photography was prohibited.  Thank goodness for the Diggers that disobeyed the rules otherwise we would have no record of our military heritage.

Since the original article I have identified the names of all 18 armoured cars.  This was made possible both through the letters I received and Mike Cecil, the Curator of Military Technology at the War Memorial, from whom I receive much research assistance. 

  • The complete name list and their deployment is as follows:

    • LP1 DD-220 Corrobboree which was nicknamed Ned Kelly 1st Armoured Car Regiment, Horsham, Vic.

    • LP2s DD-221 Billabong which was based on Ford components and DD-222 Boomerang which was based on Chevrolet components both to the 1st Armoured Car Regiment, Horsham, Vic.  However with Billabong, I received a photograph showing her on exercise in 1940 at Glenfield, NSW that suggests either a joint exercise between the 1st & 2nd A/C Regiments or deployment to the 2nd.

    • LP3s - C-314 Crow, C-315 Curlew, C-316 Cockatoo, C-317 Stingray, C-318 Starfish and C-319 Snake all to the 2nd Armoured Car Regiment Ashfield, NSW.

    •   LP4s - C-6278 Devil unknown

    • C-6279 Dingo unknown

    • C-6280 Bandicoot - probably 1st

    • C-6281 Porcupine possibly 2nd as the hull was located in NSW

    • C-6282 Possum 1st

    • C-6283 Pelican - unknown

    • C-6284 Wolf - unknown

    • C-6285 Wattle - unknown

    • C-6286 Warpath - unknown

The Author, contactable on 0421 038 661, is still eagerly seeking further information about these vehicles.  In the meantime thanks to all who responded to my original article. 

The Bandicoot is operational and available for parades or displays.  It is on permanent display in the Military Vehicle Museum at 252 Commercial Road, Port Adelaide, SA, which is open 9.30am to 4.30pm every Sunday and Public Holiday.  Private viewing is available on request.  For further information contact 08 8341 3011.
 

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