by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
During the 1960’s, the British Army realized that they needed a 4x4 vehicle capable of being rapidly deployed world-wide. The standard military Land Rovers of the day were both too heavy and too wide to fit within transport aircraft and helicopter of the day. A new vehicle was required.
Land Rover answered with a prototype of light-weighted vehicle based on a standard Series 2A general service 1/4 ton Land Rover. The chassis was shortened and reduced in width, with the vehicle body completely rebuilt removing almost all non-essential items and making many body components easily detachable. The result was the Land Rover Half-Ton known widely as the Lightweight or Airportable. Interestingly, the vehicle was over the specified weight and in fact heavier than a standard Land Rover, making the term Lightweight confusing. However, with the removable body panels taken off the vehicle, it was below the specified limits. The Lightweight successfully completed British Army trials in 1967, with the first vehicles delivered to Royal Marines in 1968. Lightweights remained in service with all branches of the British military until the late 1990’s when the entire fleet of Series 2A/3 were replaced with Land Rover 90.
Wings & Wheels Publications (WWP) recently released a reference photo manual for modelers on Land Rover Lightweight. Here are the basic facts:
Title: Airborne Landies in Detail (Lightweights in British and Czech Collections)
Publisher: Wings & Wheels Publications (WWP)
Authors: Aleš Kautský and František Kořán
Format: softcover (22x24 cm)
Color: full color
Retail Price: $30 (€24)
The book consists of 92 pages and displays vehicles photographed during The War and Peace show, the world's largest military vehicle and militaria collectors fair, and similar shows in Europe. The book is organized in 8 chapters which are color coded on page edges, allowing easy navigation:
• History and Development (02-05)
• Walk Around (06-19)
• Interior Details (20-29)
• Engine Details (30-39)
• Chassis Details (40-45)
• Special Ops Vehicles (46-71)
• FFR Vehicles (72-85)
• Weapons and Gear (86-92)
The first chapter, History and Development, provides a short overview of the Lightweight, explains its origins and adds some technical details of the vehicle. The Walk Around chapter opens with several full page photos of Series 2A and Series 3 vehicles, noting slight differences between the variants. The chapter on Interior Details comes next, showing roof and inside door details, instrument panel, crew seats, etc. in both British and Dutch Landies. This chapter also clearly shows the interior differences between GS (General Service) and FFR (Fitted for Radio) Lightweight versions. Engine Details are the focus of the following chapter, showing 2.25L petrol engine as well as 2.25L diesel engine in great length... a real 10-page treat for Land Rover enthusiasts. Next up is the chapter on Chassis Details with images depicting forward and rear axle details, springs, frame and shaft. The chapter on Special Ops Vehicles shows several Land Rover Lightweights in slightly different Para FFR configurations. Each vehicle is described in detail, emphasizing the slight variations between them. FFR Vehicles are covered next, showing details of the radios and radio operators' compartment, telescopic antenna mast, as well as the wireless radios of Para radio rack. Final pages of the book are dedicated to Weapons and Gear, showing the details of GPMG.
Altogether, the book is very impressive. It is printed on high-quality gloss paper with over 230 large images filling the pages. The images show the vehicles from all sides, but also display loads of details inside and out. The short captions provide a wealth of information and although this is primarily a photo book, I found the text very engaging, complementing the images really well. More importantly, the captions explain any possible discrepancies of these refurbished vehicles to the original vehicles in military service which is a big plus for die-hard vehicle enthusiasts.
WWP released several reference photo books on Land Rovers, and this title provides a very welcomed continuation of the series dealing with a very peculiar Land Rover Lightweight variant. The book follows the WWP format nicely: it is packed full of large clear images showing the vehicles inside and out in amazing detail, accompanied by very informative image captions.