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.
Picture added on 28 May 2009 at 18:56