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Alvis Saracen Grampian Transport Museum
Military Vehicle Photos
No: 55   Contributor: Marcel Sloover   Year: 2009   Manufacturer: Alvis   Country: Scotland
Alvis Saracen Grampian Transport Museum

This Alvis Saracen I photographed outside the Grampian Transport Museum in Scotland.

The FV603 Saracen was a six-wheeled armoured personnel carrier built by Alvis and used by the British army that became a recognisable vehicle as a result of its part in the policing of Northern Ireland.

The FV603 Saracen was the armoured personnel carrier of Alvis' FV600 series. Besides the driver and commander, a squad of 8 soldiers plus a troop commander could be carried. Most models carried a small turret on the roof, carrying a Browning .30 MG. A .303 Bren gun could also be mounted on an anti-aircraft ring-mount accessed through a roof hatch and there were ports on the sides through which troops can fire. Although removed from active service, it saw extensive use into the 1980s in Northern Ireland and was a familiar sight during "The Troubles". At times they even appeared on the streets of Hull, a less-hostile atmosphere for driver training in a city of similar appearance to Belfast.

As a member of the FV 600 series it shared a similar chassis with the FV601 Saladin armoured car, the Salamander fire engine and the Stalwart High Mobility Load Carrier. The chassis, suspension and final drive remained similar, but the engine, transmission and braking systems varied significantly.

The Saracen was in turn used as an armoured personnel Carrier, armoured command vehicle and ambulance. The FV 603 model saw many variants in detail, including radio or command fitments and specialist equipment for Artillery or Signals use.

The Saracen series also includes:

* FV 604 Armoured Command Vehicle (ACV): with extra radio equipment and distinctive "penthouse" roof extensions to support .

* FV 610 Armoured Command Post (ACP): higher sides to the armoured rear compartment allowed radios to be racked above the map tables. There were also fittings for canvas awnings to the rear and sides. A small generator was also carried on a front wing. See picture #2616.

* FV 606 / FV 611 Armoured Ambulance. See picture #581.

Saracen was produced before Saladin because of the urgent need for a personnel carrier to serve in the Malayan Emergency, entering production in 1952.

The Saracen was produced both with and without turrets fitted.

(text Wikipedia)


Picture added on 28 May 2009 at 18:56
This picture is in the following groups
FV601 Saladin
add commentComments:
The Alvis Saracen was also used by the Royal Hong Kong Police, painted Royal Blue.If anyone wants a pic of one call me, i've got one.(A vehicle, not a pic.)

Added by Stan Tarrant on 03 September 2009.
I think, that you commit an error. Let's discuss. Write to me in PM, we will communicate.


Added by MusyWeeds on 04 July 2011.
Marcel, the ambulance version was the FV605 (don't put your faith in Wikipedia!). The later ambulance versions used in Ulster were, in fact, FV603s which were modified on site as all the oeiginal FV605s were in the TA units or scrapped.There was no FV606/611. There was also a version of the high roof FV610 fitted with a radar, which was used by 94 Locating Regt, Royal Artillery. The engine for all variants of the FV600 series was, contrary to Wikipedia, identical - the Rolls Royce B80 multi-fuel.

The reason for the Saracen being used in Ulster, was due to the PIRA using tungsten-tipped high-velocity ammunition, which went through the light armour plate of the "Pigs" in use like a knife through butter. They were used as an interim measure while the Pigs were being up-armoured.

Trust me - I was there!

Added by Roger Greenaway on 04 July 2011.
Great picture, brought back many memories of the 2 years I drove a Saracen in Malaya while serving with the 15th/19th Hussars.The registration of the vehicle in the picture 32BA29 is near to the one I drove which was 32BA09.i read in this article that the B80 IS Multifuel engine, not at all, it is a petrol only driven engine

Added by William Gray on 07 April 2014.
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