Why walk, when you can ride in a...
Background information by Guy Bowers
The Malaysian emergency highlighted the need for an armoured personnel carrier. The Saracen (a 6 wheeled armoured car) was rushed into service along with the Humber ‘Pig’ but these were stop-gaps. The intention was to develop a tracked armoured personnel carrier.
In 1962, the ‘Trojan’ FV 432 was introduced, although it was never referred to as the Trojan in service, always as the FV 432. This was to avoid confusion with the car manufacturer of the same name. Production finished in 1971 after some 3000 were produced.
The FV 432 is similar in external appearance to the M113 but is all steel construction, while the US M113 is aluminium. While the steel does not burn as well as aluminium, the FV 432’s long service has shown it prone to rust. Armour protection is between 6 and 12mm steel, sufficient to stop small arms and shell fragments only. While originally fitted with a flotation screen for crossing rivers, this is missing on most FV 432 models. Armament consists of a single 7.62mm machinegun and 6 smoke dischargers, arranged in two groups of 3. Usually the machinegun is the GPMG, however with command and second line vehicles, the Bren LMG is used.
The payload consists of 2 crew and 10 passengers. The vehicle is quite roomy inside, described as ‘the Hilton’ compared with more modern vehicles such as the Warrior or BMP. The seats, 5 a side, fold up to provide 3450kg of cargo area. The driver and commander/gunner have separate hatches. The infantry may exit via the rear door or by a circular twin door hatch in the ceiling. The soldiers face inwards, there are no external firing ports. However most crew, passengers and engineers developed a love and hate relationship with the FV432. Drivers complained of the lack of vision through its vision ports, being reliant on the commander to direct the tank. Engineers cursed about the frequency and complexity of repairs. Troops moaned about the bumpy rides and the lack of proper NBC capacity. When it rained the vehicle leaked and in the Gulf, embarked troops had to wear full NBC gear inside the vehicle. To be fair to the FV432, these are common complaints of even the most modern AFVs.
Originally powered by a petrol B series Rolls Royce engine, later replaced with a K60 diesel, giving a reasonable 52kmh and 480km range (with diesel). A number of the petrol versions were shipped to Canada to be used in army training exercises. Diesels were prevalent in front line positions, such as the BAOR.
The adaptable FV 432 continued to be used even with the introduction of the Warrior and is still used over it’s rival, the FV 103 Spartan series, in some roles simply because it’s bigger. The chassis forms the basis for the FV433 Abbot self-propelled gun, armed with a 105mm howitzer.
A common variant is the FV 432 fitted with the Peak Engineering turret to house the 7.62mm gun (to protect the gunner from hostile fire). It is mounted on a steel cover, replacing the circular troop compartment hatch. There is an exit hatch directly behind the turret and a hatch in the turret itself.
Heavy support variants include the Carl Gustav (mounted on a rail over the circular hatch), 81mm Mortar (firing out of the open circular top hatch) and Wombat variants. With the introduction of the Milan, the Wombat was retired and replaced by Milan teams. The Milan FV 432 carries 2 teams. There are also Ambulance, Engineer (Minelayer, Maintenance and Recovery), Command and Radar versions. Finally, there is a Swingfire version, which carries 2 launchers (the FV 438).
A 30mm Raden turret off the Fox armoured car was fitted to a few. The FV432/30 was almost exclusively used with the Berlin Brigade before their withdrawal from active service. After this, they were used as OPFOR (Opposing Forces) on exercise.
The Warrior finally slowly replaced the FV 432 in front line service starting in 1987. However the FV variants have seen wide service into the 1990s and beyond in second line service, following the British army’s unofficial principle of if it still works why does it need replacing? FV 432s saw front line service in the Second Gulf war (1991) and peacekeeping in Yugoslavia. A number of surplus vehicles were sold to India.